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“Growing up, I had nobody to mentor me. I had to learn things the hard way,” Lucky says to me as we drive in the rain to pick up his four-year-old son. Jermy Tassin, better known as Lucky Lou, is an aspiring rapper and lead choreographer of FNS (Fresh N Stainless), a neighborhood youth dance group. But as Lucky explains, it’s much more than just a group of kids dancing together – it’s about mentoring. From his own experiences growing up in the Magnolia Projects, Lucky knows the importance of having something positive to be passionate about and dedicated to. Surrounded by negative influences as a teenager, Lucky became entangled in drugs and crime. “There came a point when I had to question myself…’What are you living for? What do you want out of life?’ The only thing that came to my head was: I want to dance. I want to make music. I want to be a star.”

He began going to church regularly and recently recorded a short CD of his own music. For the past three years, Lucky has dedicated himself to God, his son, his dance group, and his dream. His dream, however, is not simply to get rich and famous. He believes that art is not about the artist himself but rather the people he influences. Lucky hopes to use his artistic talents to inspire others to lead more positive lives. Before Lucky’s involvement, FNS was an unorganized, informal group of teenagers who came together once in a while to dance. Since he stepped in, he has seen the dancers’ attitudes change from apathetic to dedicated and hardworking – he proudly tells me that the group recently won first place at a citywide dance competition. “It’s a struggle to stay on the right path, but I’m willing to fight. They look up to me – the minute I fall back, they fall back. So no matter what, I’m going to keep stepping up.”

We arrive at Lucky’s ex-girlfriend’s house, where his son, still dressed in PJs and carrying a bag of his favorite toys, hops in the car. Looking back at his son through the rearview mirror and smiling, Lucky tells me, “When I was young, people used to badmouth me, saying ‘you’ll never be nothing.’” There’s a moment of silence, stirred only by the sound of wind and water against windshield and gospel music streaming from the radio. Then, in a voice quiet but clearly audible, Lucky says, “Just look at me now. Look at me now.”

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