By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minneapolis man is preparing for a new beginning after a rough start in life.

Rolando Ruiz received the George Floyd Scholarship and will attend North Central University this fall.

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He tells his story of how years of doing bad things on the streets has prepared him for what’s ahead in the classroom.

“I was actually born into the Shakopee women’s facility. My mom was locked up, incarcerated so that resulted in me being born there,” said Ruiz.

The 31-year-old Ruiz entered this world behind bars and they became a consistent part of his life during his teen and adult years.

(credit: CBS)

“Drugs, alcohol, crime. Doing things, at first, a bunch of learned behaviors I did to survive, to fit in and be accepted in the neighborhood and the people I was around,” Ruiz said.

Survival situations turned into a lifestyle. Ruiz was in and out of juvenile detention and then eventually prison.

“And now I can go back in time and look at the times where specifically God reached out, was like, ‘I’m here,’ and I just wrote it off,” Ruiz said.

An encounter caught on video with a Minneapolis police officer back in 2009 cost a cop his job and funded his criminal lifestyle.

Ten years later, it all came to a halt. He says he finally stopped running and accepted what God had planned for his life.

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Teen Challenge gave him a new lease on life and a mentor, Judge Kevin Ross.

“I saw in him already a passion to turn his life around,” said Ross.

Ross is a former police officer and lawyer, now Court of Appeals judge, who saw Ruiz’s potential and decided to help him realize what was possible.

“He knows that I am someone he can turn to with anything, any question, any help along the way,” Ross said.

Ruiz has mentored young people along his journey, speaking at juvenile detention centers, steering kids away from crime and drugs.

Ross encouraged him to apply to college and then the George Floyd Scholarship.

“Out of thousands of people across the country one person gets picked and I got picked,” Ruiz said.

He now knows he has a calling in his life and he is ready to fulfill it.

“God has led me this far. I feel like I don’t even know what’s going on half the time, he’s just like, ‘Look, put your shoes on and show up, I got the rest, and follow me.’ And that’s what I’ve been doing,” Ruiz said.

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Ruiz will move to campus this weekend and start classes soon. He hopes to keep encouraging young people to stay away from drugs and crime and use his life as an example of how you can turn things around.

Reg Chapman