Will.i.am Thanks Teacher For Helping Him Avoid Gang Life

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August 14, 2011 | 6:45pm EST

Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am is forever grateful to a teacher who chastised him for scrawling graffiti on his school walls, insisting she “changed my life”.
The rapper admits he was an unruly kid growing up in Los Angeles, but a tutor refused to tolerate his bad behaviour – and will.i.am is surethe gesture helped him enormously.

Speaking on Piers Morgan Tonight, he says, “I know people in gangs, I could have (gone) down that route. But music and that community saved my life. The teachers, you know, the reach out that Ms. Montez said, ‘Hey, Will, don’t go writing on those walls.’

“She asked me, she’s like, ‘Why are you writing on the walls in school?’ ‘You know, because I’ve been practising my script and I want people to see it’. She’s like, ‘Hey, don’t damage the property, I promise, you always come to my classroom and write on the chalkboard, and I won’t take it down.’ That little deed changed my life. So I would go hang out in her classroom and I would get to draw on her chalkboard.”

Will.i.am, who is fronting an upcoming TV special about science, is convinced his dedication to extra-curricular activities helped him avoid joining a gang, like several other local youngsters.

He adds, “I remember the L.A. riot, the race riots in the early ’90s. We had programs. The school I went to was a magnet program… that changed my life. I mean, that was the differentiating factor between me and my next door neighbours. I could’ve ended up like the kids in my neighborhood, but I got bused out an hour to good schools.”