NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The money, cars, and clothes… On one hand, former teenage drug dealer says it was all about the life-style.
On the other, it was also a matter of survival, helping to provide for his family at the tender age 15.
Nolan Starnes is now setting a positive example for teens who may be considering going down that same dark and dangerous road.
He’s doing it in a neighborhood near the Parkwood Community in Talbot’s Corner of Nashville, where drugs and drug dealing used to be common.
“I’ve been around it ever since elementary,” Starnes said.
He was a product of his environment.
“You had guys making money, they had cars, flashing money and jewelry, even some cats that we went to school with, you know just had lavish things,” Starnes told News 2.
And he wanted it, too.
“I was willing to work and do whatever I had to do to take care of myself to make sure I had some kind of future,” he said.
His dad left the family, and his mother was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, so he was pressured to provide for the family as a teenager.
“I’ve never robbed anybody. I’ve never killed anybody. The only thing I’ve done was to try and earn money to try and support myself and my mother,” Starnes explained.
It started with selling marijuana, and then crack cocaine. By the age of 22, Starnes was trafficking drugs from Houston to Nashville.
“It really just opened my eyes to, you know, to how rough these streets and crime can be,” he said.
It all came to an end in Beaumont-Port Arthur, Texas. He was stopped with a carload of dope.
“That’s where the charges was put on us man, and it was Federal,” Starnes told News 2.
He served 5 years in federal prison where his life began to change after he says he found God.
Now that he’s seen the dark side of drugs, he’s now steering young men in the right direction.
“Selling drugs or dealing with the streets is only going to lead you to two places, and that’s dead or in prison,” Starnes said.
He started All-In All Starz, Inc., a mentoring program at Parkwood Community Center.
“I want to inspire them to be doctors, and astronauts, farmers, you know, physicists,” he said.
Starnes also got children involved with a community garden, something he hopes to bring back soon.
Alan Calhoun, Davidson County Juvenile Court Magistrate, sees hundreds of youngsters in his courtroom on drug charges each year.
“Certainly there are teenage drug dealers who present a risk to themselves and others and … and that you think of when you see the movies and think of drug dealers,” Calhoun told News 2.
From January to September of this year, there were a total of 398 teenagers detained on drug charges; 46 for possession for resale and 363 for simple possession.
After the court intervened, 45 were actually issued petitions and charged for possession for resale and only 124 for simple possession.
“The majority of the kids who come to the court for drug-related purposes do not have extensive history, and we’re going to try and work together with those families to find the appropriate programs so we don’t see them again,” Calhoun said.
That is the goal trying to prevent the teenagers from coming before the court again.
Magistrate Calhoun said involvement from caring adults surrounding a child could be key in preventing them from becoming the next teenage drug dealer.
For more information on All-In All Starz Inc., and if you would like to donate to help this non-profit with their community garden and other mentoring efforts, visit their Facebook page.