ATLANTA — Although [artist id="1225081"]T.I.'s[/artist] interventions with at-risk youth on his "Road to Redemption" reality series have led to some remarkable turnarounds — like in the case of episode three's Anthony, a former Crip turned chef's assistant — there have also been some kids who seem like they just can't be helped, like episode five's Mario.
"Mario, man. ... Mario reminded me a lot of me and my homeboys when I was his age ... in a lot of grown-man situations," T.I. told MTV News' Sway during their sit-down as a part of the "Road to Redemption" finale special, "The Reckoning" (airing Tuesday at 9 p.m.). "And I just thought that — or hoped that — I could have a positive impact on him before he got himself into a situation that he couldn't get himself out of."
Tip went to extremes to help Mario, taking him on an ambulance ride to see what happens to someone after they get shot. Mario, like T.I., had previously attempted to purchase machine guns illegally.
During a reunion in Atlanta with some of the "Road to Redemption" kids, T.I. and Pee Wee briefly chatted about Mario.
"I heard he was arrested for attempted murder," T.I. said. The comment elicited a strong reaction from Pee Wee, who said he knew something bad was going to happen with Mario.
Tip acknowledged that despite his best efforts, his interventions can only lead to the beginnings of change — each troubled kid has to keep themselves on the right path. And, of course, it has to start from within.
"[I know] they desire to. Of course, they don't ride around with T.I. every moment of every day of their life — when they're not with me, they're back in their environment that they were in before they met me," Tip explained. "The people they spend most of their time around can have a negative influence on their decision-making sometimes. A lot of times they can overcome that negative influence, sometimes it's half and half. They still go to school, get good grades, do the right thing. When they come home, sometimes they're kicking it here and kicking it there, doing things — they might not do it as much as they used to."
T.I. hopes Mario's miscue is only a detour and not a full wrong turn into more trouble. Tip said he understands the redemption process sometimes isn't always immediate, comparing it to smokers trying to kick their nicotine habits.
"Very few people can quit cold-turkey," he said. "Sometimes you go from smoking two packs to a pack and a half to a pack to ... you just bum cigarettes off others. That's how I see it. Only a few of them are able to quit cold-turkey. Others, they just try to wean themselves away from their life."
Don't miss "T.I.'s Road to Redemption: The Reckoning," airing Tuesday, April 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.