CONYERS - When Orrin Hudson was 14 years old, he couldn't imagine himself as a motivational speaker who empowered preteens and teens. In fact, he couldn't imagine doing much of anything.
"When I was 14, I got in a lot of trouble," said Hudson, a resident of Lithonia.
He said when he was in high school in Birmingham, Ala., he hung out with the wrong crowd, made bad decisions and was not a very good student. And then one day, a teacher pulled him aside.
"He said, 'To move ahead in life, you have to think ahead,'" Hudson said. "I didn't know what he meant at the time, but I eventually realized my life didn't have to be like that."
The teacher told Hudson to come back after school and his teacher introduced him to the game of chess. Hudson's teacher remained dedicated to teaching him the game for the next four years.
"It saved my life; I owe my life to that teacher," Hudson said. "The information he gave me helped me develop a vision for my life and get on a better track. Now, I'm a lifelong learner."
Hudson launched Be Someone Inc., a youth development program, in 2001 after he heard about seven people who were killed in New York as a result of a robbery in which $2,000 was taken.
Hudson now speaks to students at area schools and youth gatherings and uses chess as a metaphor to motivate at-risk youth, as his teacher did for him.
"Evil prevails when good people do nothing," Hudson said.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: If You Go
What: Youth Soaring to New Heights, featuring speaker Orrin "Checkmate" Hudson, creator of Be Someone Inc.
When: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Rockdale County High School, 1174 Bulldog Circle, Conyers
More information: www.besomeone.org