Kasim Shaw’s mom always knew he had it in him.

“His hard work was nothing but faith,” said Izetta Shaw. “At first he lost it. He’s a boy, well, a young man now, and I believe from the trials he went through through high school lowered his self-esteem and lowered his pride, and he felt like he couldn’t handle it. I always told him, ‘I always believed in you.’”

Life was good for Shaw, now 19, during his high school days. He was captain of Mastery Charter’s basketball team and was a member of the National Honor Society. He got straight A’s. Shaw had an astute work ethic, but the thing he didn’t have was money. So he turned to the streets.

“I was a senior at Mastery Charter and left near the end of the year. There was non-stop chaos. It was dangerous, and the trouble came to my doorstep,” he said.

Shaw was caught selling drugs and was forced to drop out of high school only three credits short of getting his diploma. To add insult to injury, around the same time in early 2017, his 17-year-old brother was gunned down on South 7th Street right before his eyes.

“I lost it all,” he said.

It seemed like a nearly impossible feat to get his life back on track, but he decided to look into a program called The Choice is Yours, a 13-month prison diversionary program that offers nonviolent drug sellers a chance to avoid prison and a permanent felony by completing the program.

Read more about Kasim and how The Choice is Yours has helped him turn things around in this article from South Philly Review.

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