Inner City Miracle

Posted May 11 2008

Autobiography of TV's Judge Greg Mathis.

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With a few exceptions, I haven’t been interested in reading the autobiography of a  celebrity since I was like 12. However, since Judge Mathis is from The D (Detroit), I figured “why not?” It’s a quick read, but one I’m glad that I took the time to read. While I can’t say that I watch his show on a regular basis, I did know that Mathis had somewhat of a hoodlum background. This book sugar coats none of his time a member of the Errol Flynn gang, detailing robbery, beatings, and other crimes, as well as an affair he had once he started changing his life. While Mathis’ life was not easy, he makes no excuses, often saying that he failed in spite of his mother’s best efforts. As readers trace Mathis’ personal life, those with familiarity of Detroit and its surrounding cities will recognize numerous places and people; many of whom Mathis is quick to compliment, or criticize. As noted above, there’s no sugar coating here! Even his church doesn’t get a pass. It’s not merely a case of doom and gloom though, as Mathis and his co-author merely seek to give a more nuanced perspective, which I appreciated.

In spite of his best efforts to end up dead or in jail, Mathis eventually makes it through college and law school, becoming the youngest judge in Michigan history, surprising more than a few detractors. Beyond his legal work, Mathis also discusses his role in the careers of such powerhouses as former Mayor Coleman Young and activist Jesse Jackson. I had no idea of his political clout and found his take on the inner workings of these machines to be quite interesting.

I enjoyed this book as an adult reader, but as someone who also works with teens, I think this book is quite an inspirational tale for youth, particularly young males who just can’t seem to get their lives straight. Honestly, for a good part of his life Mathis was one of those young, hot-headed people I can’t stand, who only cares about their own wants, with little regard for anyone else, even those they claim to love. Yet in the end, he turns himself around and becomes an asset to society. From a teacher’s perspective, these stories remind not only young people, but also adults that even the biggest knuckle heads among us can turn things around, IF they want it and they get the support. My social preaching aside, Mathis and company have written an interesting tale and I look forward to the next one.


1. Alma said at June 10, 2008 1:58 pm:

The fact that I am a huge fan of Judge Greg Mathis is like, I always hear d him say in the beginning of his show that he grew up like practically a screw up kid and then he got a second chance. It really inspires me because even though I have not gone trough as much as he has, i have my life story as well. Also I want to become a Lawyer to then become a judge. I am myself interested in reading this book because of the fact that I want to know more about him. The reason is because of the fact that I had to be able to learn much about the background of the very famous "people" but it's like some people always say that the famous people almost always had wealth and all the things they wanted. Seeing that a man who know is successful and has his own show on tv it is inspiring.

2. Martin Rochin said at June 16, 2008 2:35 am:

Honestly, I thought the whole "bad boy gone good" thing was made for the viewers too. That's why your review caught my attention when I saw it. Although I don't have memories of Michigan to reminisce about but the review convinced me to try and read it (now that I have it I'm definitely reading it) I have not started yet but based on the review I think I will enjoy it. If it is as blunt as the review says, I will be glad to (finally) be able to read an honest, completely uncensored story. I figure this is the type of book that needs to be written more often to show people the realities of living in the ghetto without sugarcoating the truth. I'll get back to you when I finish.

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