Meet Aaron Morris, Ex-Gangster And Lowest Paid Public Servant In St. Louis

Categories: Community

morris11.JPG
Danny Wicentowski
Aaron Morris, the lowest salaried St. Louis city employee.
The salaries of St. Louis' 5,766 city employees are public and easily searchable online. Though it's easy to get lost staring at the six-figure salaries pulled in by top officials, we wondered...who's at the bottom?

It turned out to be Aaron Morris, a 34-year-old reformed gang member and Program Worker II for the city's health department. He pulls in $24,492 a year, the very lowest among salaried city employees.

"I was in a gang from the age of nine years old to the age of seventeen," Morris begins. "Getting out, I had to face death."

See also: Rapper's Sheet: Gang life inspired Yo Banga's music. Now it threatens to derail his career

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Morris' 2012 memoir, From Gangs to God.
The health department hired Morris in 2006, three years after he enrolled in a gang-abatement program called Youth Empowerment Services; it was there that he caught the eye of Bishop Eddie Stallings, a former gangster himself.

"I came from the street," says Stallings, who now works as a program supervisor with the public safety department. When Morris entered the program, Stallings and his bosses were looking to train a youth outreach specialist, someone possessing social pull with at-risk youth; they wanted to reach kids whose lives were dominated by gang allegiances and turf lines.

Morris stood out. He was in midst of transitioning from that life, leaving the easy money of the game behind. After joining the health department, Morris was made supervisor of his own youth outreach efforts. His old street connections came in handy.

"It was hard trying to believe that I could make it without hustling," Morris recalls. "You really have to believe in hope, and ain't many people teaching you how."

But after three years in the program and keeping his nose clean, Morris arrived for his first day at work with the health department. He remembers the date: October 8, 2006. Over the next four years, Morris says, his programs have reached thousands of kids. He organized community talent shows, gang truces and STD prevention events. But in 2009, the funding for these programs dried up.

"They shut us down," he says.

Continue for how Morris faced death to escape gang life.

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31 comments
Rod Burguiere
Rod Burguiere

Thanks for that incredibly insightful reality check.

Thomas Myers
Thomas Myers

Yeah that's kind of my point, nobody cares about the people that have always made an honest living, instead they glorify this gang banger that went legit. He was born into it so he's not responsible for anything? He got curb stomped out of the gang, ok. But it doesn't mention how many people he curb stomped before that happened. How many of them were innocent, helpless people? What else has he done? Now he's sharing his sob story, which is only half the story, trying to get book sales. I don't owe him anything, nobody does.

Rod Burguiere
Rod Burguiere

"Middle Class White Guy Maintains Job While Living in Suburban STL." Sounds like an Onion article.

Aaron Morris
Aaron Morris

Stinks so badly I had to clean it ! When You Know Better You Do Better, if a Nation of Native Murders can change , so can it's So can Rose seeds from Concret Gardens GOD Bless You..

Colleen Qadadeh
Colleen Qadadeh

It's a good story with a underlying message about your fellow man. Anyone can change even the gangster. Quit judging. It's also decent journalism

Kaven Snyder
Kaven Snyder

Look at all these Facebook Hero's acting like their shit don't stink. Thomas Myers is 100% correct, why are we turning a blind to the fact that he was a gangster?

prophet.awasetemple
prophet.awasetemple

This is a testimony that i will tell to every one to hear. i have been married four 4years and on the fifth year of my marriage, another woman had to take my lover away from me and my husband left me and the kids and we have suffered for 2years until i met a post where this man Dr. Oboh have helped someone and i decided to give him a try to help me bring my lover back home and believe me i just send my picture to him and that of my husband and after 48hours as he have told me, i saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband and he have come to me and the kids and that is why i am happy to make every one of you in similar to met with this man and have your lover back to your self. His email: drobohspellworks@outlook.com

Brooks Fiercee
Brooks Fiercee

Hey I met him when you took me to that breakfast

Quinn Travis
Quinn Travis

Oh Thomas Myers, I feel you, I do, but then again its really ridiculous....the POINT of the STORY is that someone OVERCAME a huge obstacle, and went on to do great things. Of course the man who always did good deeds with no obstacles to overcome is a good thing, but is it news worthy, or nearly as inspiring as someone who was never given anything, struggled, faced death, and turned away from it. Nevertheless, lets congratulate our fellow man. Thank you RFT for bringing light to this story and this man:-)

Nicholas Frisella
Nicholas Frisella

Did you read the article? I don't think a 9 year old can make an informed life decision. Seems to me he was born into that life style. When he was old enough to realize this was not the life he wanted he risked death for a positive change. Then he dedicated his life to help kids in similar situations. That's positive news that I want to hear about. It gives people hope.

Justin Curia
Justin Curia

lol thomas why you so mad brobro? i don't think anyone is asking for your (lack of) sympathy and here's the thing, no one gives a hoot about a story of good people who worked hard yeah, what a touching inspiring story that would be: "a perfect man who never made mistakes worked hard did good in life and look at him now he's a good guy who did good stuff 4 society wowe cool" how about bore me to death instead cuz it'd be about the same end result as reading a story about someone who never had to overcome anything challenging or completely change their lifestyle to accommodate responsibility anyway, put your work boots back on, man go be a good dude and contribute to society don't worry about the struggle; we got this

Thomas Myers
Thomas Myers

Am I supposed to feel sorry for this guy? He chose that life, it's news worthy that he decided to stop being a criminal and get a job? Where's the story about good people that have worked hard, made an honest living and have contributed to society their entire lives?

chontomlin
chontomlin

While I am extremely proud of this young man and his ability to turn his life around, I am equally disappointed in RFT for overshadowing the message by highlighting the low wages in the headline to increase readership. Why is every article positioned to get a rise out of folks?

Douglas Dial
Douglas Dial

Hands down, the best RFT article I've read. Inspiring story. From going in the wrong direction, doing a 180 onto the right path trying to help young people along the way. Although, I suspect the finds didn't "dry up". I bet a supervisor or politician made the funds appear in their own pocket.

Jeff White
Jeff White

This guy is worth more than all the gangstas all put together

cinthehous
cinthehous

It's great to see a positive story from the streets.  Keep it up Aaron!!

KITTY
KITTY

For what he did, give him praise. For what he does, give him a raise!

aliasg2g
aliasg2g

I was  born a homeless child who was taught to gang bang, "gang banger I Am Not..... I never was but something I did.

Now with no money I teach youth and adults how to find the strength in H.O.P.E., Workmanship, Forgiveness. i teach love not hate. partnership not indifference.... If You grew up having a good honest life and yet can't see the impact of the POWER of G.O.D. in Humanity then You Too shall have hardship so that your Honest Up bringing Serves You Purpose...........Bless you Son...


aliasg2g
aliasg2g

I was a member of a gang, The Pilgrims we're Murders yet U sing the star stained I mean spangle banner at every sport event there is... MMMMM

Any willing some one can make a change in JESUS's name I Promise....


jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

No, but the rest of us can feel pity for you for being such an obvious dildo of a human being. Congrats dawg!

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