WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — It should come as little surprise that Jake Scott is trying to save kids with the help of wrestling, after all, the sport is his wheelhouse.
"I believe that sports in general can change lives," says Scott.
Beat the Streets Wrestling D.C. is attempting to do that. The program is a by-product of Beat the Streets Wrestling New York, which aimed to introduce kids of all ages to the sport while giving them a healthy, positive alternative to the streets.
On this cold, snowy Thursday afternoon, Scott is coaching at Caesar Chavez Charter in Northeast where the kids are learning to grapple with one another and with life.
"There's just something about wrestling," says Bob Brams, CEO and President of Beat the Streets Wrestling D.C. "The hard work, that sort of one on one activity."
"You find that your day is stressful, you come here and its fun," says 15 year old Unique Henson. "It's fun to get that stress off."
But can it change lives? It certainly changed Scott's.
Scott was raised in Capitol Heights, Md. at 905 Balboa Avenue, a tiny dwelling. Somehow, Scott and 16 siblings shoe-horned their way into the home. It wasn't pleasant. It was a place where dreams were often shackled and time moved slowly.
"My house that I grew up in was a crack house," says Scott. "I remember at the age of 12 or 13 walking upstairs and watching adults get high on crack."
His sister was one of those adults.
"This was a woman who previously had been 145 pounds. She was a beautiful girl, she was reduced to 95 pounds, hair had fallen out and all I could say when I saw her was 'Wow.'"
Other siblings succumbed to drugs too. So how did Scott escape that life? Well that's the story. There is a steel resolve to this guy. Scott loved wrestling and his high school coach Santo Chase implored him to be different. That motivation was one factor that led this kid from the tough bricks of Capitol Heights to American University. He would become team captain and a top 10 performer.
"When I saw the faces of my friends when I returned home I realized that I can inspire," says Scott. "I realized I can change lives just like my life was changed."
He was just getting started, he also loved math, became a Montgomery County teacher and is now famous for his math raps, which help students learn abstract mathematics through music. His raps have become known around the world.
Through it all, wrestling remains in his blood, which is why he and Beat the Streets Wrestling D.C. are in perfect lock step. After all, the sport has taken him places he never could've imagined.