An ex-gang member has told of being shot at and stabbed and hearing of his friends being murdered by rival gangs before his 15th birthday.
Terroll Lewis, 30, has written about his experiences after being spending 11 months in Belmarsh prison in south east London before being acquitted of manslaughter.
In his tell-all book One Chance, the former Stevenage FC player wrote: “My moustache hides the evidence of a bullet skimming my top lip," MyLondon reports.
“I have nightmares in which I’m back in the hood, bullets flying towards me, friends being killed. I don’t think the fear will ever leave me. Not completely.”
At the age of 11, he witnessed violent robberies and muggings as he walked to school in gang-torn council estates in Brixton.
By 15, he had been shot at and stabbed and had become adjusted to hearing that his friends had been murdered by rival gangs.
Terroll, who now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, told MyLondon: “I am trying to make people understand.
“It is a story about a young person who has experienced a lot of violence from childhood on their estate and being part of a gang.”
He said his £50 a week to play professionally for Stevenage FC wasn't enough to turn him away from gang life growing up.
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He said: “It’s a community but it’s a community with a lot of trouble and a lot of violence.
“You have your persons you love. You would stand next to them at all costs.”
One gang member told him in the book: “We were a group of kids who grew up together on the Myatts Field estate.
“Many of us, myself included, came from broken or violent homes. We were lost, but we boys had each other.
“Then we became teenagers and crazy stuff started happening.
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“We never set out to become one of the most feared gangs in London.
"Our brotherhood grew in numbers as we protected our estate. It became a clash of egos and postcodes.”
Terroll puts his changed life down to his time in prison, particularly from speaking to inmates who were in Belmarsh for life.
“First day I got to prison I got offered a sandwich and there were stones in it,” he explains.
“Going through the experience of prison was very difficult at first but I am grateful for recharging.
“I had some really powerful conversations with the lifers. You are speaking to people who are never going home.
“A lot of them are living in regret. They tell you to live your life, start a family and travel. They tell you to unlearn and relearn. To just remember who you are and to be grateful.
“I could have gone left and gone a different way but I used that time. I spent time reading and going to poetry classes.”
Since his imprisonment Terroll has focused on trying to help pull youngsters away from a life of crime.
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