It’s not all doom and gloom for ex-felons on their release from prison. Jails allow many of these convicts a lot of time to see the error of their ways and sort their lives out.
Every year, we see inspiring news articles about felons who, upon their release, turned over a new leaf and put their lives back on track.
We have, thus, formulated a list of the 10 most successful ex-felons who took their prison time to put their lives in order.
1. Robert Downey Jr.
We recognize Robert Downey Jr. as the man behind the Iron Man mask or the actor wearing Sherlock Holmes’s signature deerstalker cap. Considering his success in Hollywood, most people would be shocked to learn that the actor was convicted of multiple drug-related charges. Robert Downey Jr. took this time to realize that he was flushing his talent down the drain and effectively put his life back on track upon his release.
2. Malcolm X
Malcolm X was a great man who made an undeniable mark on human history. Known widely as one of the greatest and most influential African Americans in US history, Malcolm proved to be an advocate for the rights of the African-American community. Thus, it is hard to believe that such a great person once spent time in prison for a series of robberies. Upon his release, he started speaking publically about the outright oppression and racism that the African-American community faced on a daily basis.
3. Reginald Dwayne Betts
The poster child for the quote, ‘No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness,’ and critically acclaimed poet, Reginald Dwayne Betts, once robbed a person assisted by his friend and drove away with his car when he was just 16. He was tried as an adult and sentenced to nine years in prison. Once there, the horrors of his new confines proved to be the perfect catalyst for him to discover his true calling. He found solace in poetry and, upon his release, finished his studies and became a poet and an activist.
4. Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart is a well-respected businesswoman and writer, but it was not always smooth sailing for the business mogul. She served five months in prison due to false statements and testimonials. Once released, she started The Marta Stewart Show that went on to enjoy a cult-like following. She also wrote many books to help and guide her audience.
5. Tim Allen
Best known for his performances in Home Improvement or his voice acting in Disney’s Toy Story series, Tim Allen is a household name. It may come as a shock to many people, but Allen was once convicted of drug possession and trafficking charges. Refusing to let this blemish on his resume define him, he turned his life around and became a well-respected and well-loved actor.
6. Jeff Henderson
Jeff Henderson spent a decade of his life behind bars due to multiple drug-related charges. It was in prison where he realized his true culinary calling and devoted his time and energy to honing his craft. He was released early due to good behavior and since then, he has earned many awards and recognitions as a chef.
7. Junior Johnson
Junior Johnson was a NASCAR driver who spent a while behind bars. He was arrested for smuggling illegal alcohol. Upon his release, he took up racing professionally, a decision which proved to be the best as he won more than 50 races in his career.
8. 50 Cent
50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson III) was arrested in 1994 and sent to prison for multiple drug-related charges. Jackson always wanted to be a rapper and used his prison time to hone his craft. Since his release, he has multiple tracks in the top tens and even won a Grammy for his collaboration with Eminem and Dr. Dre i.e. Crack A Bottle.
9. Eugene-Francois Vidocq
The man who served to be the inspiration of literature’s most infamous fictional characters i.e. Sherlock Holmes, Eugene-Francois Vidocq was a troubled youth. He was sent to prison many times due to identity theft. However, the great man turned over a new leaf and worked with the French police as a spy. His antics and expertise led to the creation of modern-day French National Police force.
10. Danny Trejo
Most of us recognize Danny Trejo as the tough Hispanic guy in most movies. Like the characters he plays on the screen, Trejo got into trouble with the law during his early years. His time in prison changed him for the better as he resolved to turn his life around and help others around him. He once confessed to the media that he deliberately chooses to play troubled characters on screen because he wants to etch the idea into the minds of the younger audience that bad people either die or rot in prison.