'A second chance at life': Bucks help make graduation possible for 6 inmates who say they strive to do better

NOW: ’A second chance at life’: Bucks help make graduation possible for 6 inmates who say they strive to do better

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A graduation ceremony for incarcerated individuals was held Tuesday afternoon in Deer District.

This was all possible thanks to a six-month program in collaboration with the Milwaukee Bucks and Milwaukee County Community Reintegration Center. 

"At the beginning, I looked and laughed, I thought it was just a joke - like, "ha-ha, I'll do that to help me get out of jail," said Johnny Clark.

Clark told CBS 58 News he was arrested for being in possession of a firearm back in October of 2022.

"I had a gun under my car, it shouldn’t have been there," he said. "My wife asked me many times to put it up, but me, coming from the streets, I felt like I needed it. Always walked around with a pocket full of money, always felt like I had to protect that, I had to protect myself for that."

On Tuesday, Clark became one of six people who graduated from the rotational work program designed for incarcerated individuals who have not committed any violent or sexual crimes.

"We actually hire folks who are currently incarcerated to work at our arena, to support different departments within our business - so housekeeping, guest experience, retail, conversion," explained Rodrick Cureton, the diversity, equity and inclusion outreach manager for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Cureton said the Milwaukee Bucks were the first NBA team to launch a program of this kind, with Tuesday marking the second graduation in its history.

For Clark, the process has taught him just how much community support and empowerment can help change the course of someone's life.

"I'm just about to shape myself to the man I should've been 20 years ago," added Clark. "Make my family happy, make myself happy, work harder, strive harder."

All six men now have a second chance at life as they were surprised toward the end of the ceremony with a full-time offer to work for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Clark said it's a dream come true. 

"Some made bad mistakes. There is good people that's incarcerated that do deserve a good chance," he said. "I want to live, I want to show my kids a different life from early age up, I want my kids to grow up and make better choices with their life."

Share this article: