Hollywood star Hill Harper hopes to inspire juveniles awaiting t - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Hollywood star Hill Harper hopes to inspire juveniles awaiting trial

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Hill Harper Hill Harper
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

He’s a Hollywood star, a Harvard graduate, a bestselling author, a friend of the president and - according to People Magazine - one of the sexiest people alive. However, that's not enough for Hill Harper. He came to Chicago and paid a visit behind bars, hoping to strike a chord with young men at the Tipping Point.

“So I went to Barack, I said Barack, me you and three other guys, we're gonna go out and play a game against the prison, prison's best team,” said Harper to a group of kids at the detention center.

Harper may not be a household name with this crowd, so it helps to drop a bigger name - like President Obama's - while talking to the guys locked up at the juvenile center.

“And five Harvard law students played five of the prison's best, you know, their all-stars. And you know who won. Not us, not us,” Harper added while laughing.

The television and film actor, perhaps best known for his regular role as a doctor on CSI New York, is also showing that he's cared about incarcerated brothers for a long time.

“This is the issue of our time, without question. Because we're getting to a point where it's becoming so large that you're seeing communities crumble…where's the tax base to support the economy of the community? It's not there,” said Harper.

The latest figures show one in three African-American males ends up in prison, and a youth detention center is often the first step to hard time.

Harper hopes to convince them to step aside.

“Many of us feel stuck because we know intuitively what we want to do to make a difference or change, but we're too scared to actually take the risk to do it,” said Harper. “And you will, most of you, end up in institutions the rest of your life. But there's one or two of you, and I don't know which one or two of you it is, that's actually gonna do the work.”

The work is outlined in his latest book, "Letters to an Incarcerated Brother." It is based on Harper's real correspondence with young men behind bars.

“There's a whole owner’s manual in the back of the book, which to me, is like one of the most important parts of the book, it's like you own your life, use this owner’s manual,” added Harper.

FOX 32’s Robin Robinson asked one juvenile inmate what it was Harper said that really hit home for him.

The boy responded, “We’re architects of our own life. We have to plan it out the way we want to and or need to, and if you plan it out the wrong way, will just end up with a bad ending.”

Those that are locked up at the juvenile detention center are awaiting trial, and one bad ending at their age doesn't have to be their whole story.

Some boys in the center didn’t show too much excitement about their famous guest speaker. A couple even had to be taken out for misbehaving,

“They’re kids, the most vulnerable young kids. But they don't wanna act that way in front of their peers,” said Harper as a boy was being walked out.

Harper stays long after his presentation. He even asked FOX 32 to turn off the camera so he can go one on one and maybe even help one boy beat the odds.

“I got your back, I love you, I wanna see you be successful, period,” said Harper to the boy.

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