GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Zantwan Worthy’s business acumen didn’t start with opening up his clothing store in east Greensboro. It started with a conversation with a friend when he was a kid.
“He showed me $1000 at the age of 13,” he told Fox8. “10 $100 bills and I had never seen one at that time.”
That planted the seed in Zantwan. That seed was watered just walking around his community – Smith Homes, Hampton Homes, and the Randleman Road area – and even in places that were supposed to be safe havens, like sports.
“We had mentors, but some of our mentors were our local drug dealers. So you see that and it’s the norm for people that’s raised in those neighborhoods. So when you’re doing illegal stuff, you really don’t even know you’re doing nothing, because this is what you learned. This is what you see,” he said. “We had mentors that were coming to practice under the influence and all that.”
Eventually, his fast-food job wasn’t enough. He started selling drugs.
“I was like when I make my first $100, I’m going to stop. Then when I make my first $500 I’m going to stop.”
But he didn’t.
“I got out of the hood and I made really a whole lot of money.”
He says he used it to make more money and to help his community.
“I was a party promoter. I owned a clothing store. I promoted all types of things. I had an adult basketball team. I did fashion shows, talent shows, step shows. I did cookouts in the middle of Hampton Homes where I fed thousands of people.”
He attended North Carolina A&T while building that empire. One night it came crashing down in a Greensboro parking lot.
“A guy set me up. He purchased a kilo of cocaine from me.”
Federal drug charges got him locked up for almost 15 years. He was released to a halfway house last year, and from the halfway house on December 31.
“It’ll break the strongest man down. I don’t care how big your stature is, how big your muscles are, how strong you think you are at heart,” he explained.
For Zantwan, the worst part was missing his daughter grow up. Today, he rebuilds his life.
“I’m back. I’m happy. I’m comfortable. And I don’t have to worry about being shot, or killed, or robbed or going back to prison because I ain’t doing nothing illegal.”
And he’s working to rebuild the community.
“It’s just so saddening to see that people are ok with harming each other. Back in the day, you had a disagreement, you fight, you get a busted lip, a black eye, you still live. They might laugh, you got beat up, but you still had your life. Now people taking each other out, and it’s sad.”
Zantwan says just as he was a product of his environment. It’s much the same today. He says we have to change the environment if we want better outcomes.
“I wish it was a program put in place where they can put somebody like me as the front to actually have conversations with these kids, to help these kids because I’ve been there. I’ve been on all sides of the fence.”
His past is an open book.
“I hope it will deter them from doing something or making bad decisions that they may want make or maybe making and they can change because I always wanted to stop dealing then, but I just never did it. I never had that person in my ear saying a lot of stuff that I’m saying now because man it ain’t nothing cool about sharing toilets in prison, sharing showers, smelling another man use the bathroom…smelling somebody that don’t want to shower, watching somebody get beat to a pulp. Watching people get stabbed. What’s cool about that?”
He says good-paying jobs around the city would be a great start. But there are plenty of legit ways people can be their own boss without risking life and freedom.
“I’m making money like I’m selling drugs off of these products. And I ain’t worried about getting robbed, killed, or going to jail. Girls can hustle selling hair, eyelashes, lip gloss or whatever. You just change up your hustle, young man out there. Because if you know how to hustle drugs, you know how to hustle t-shirts, socks, jackets, shoes. Start your own line like I did… Trustworthy.”