People often feel that a felony conviction is end of roads for them. Finding a job or housing or even travelling between cities becomes tough when you have a criminal record.
When normal life itself is difficult, one might never think about having a successful life. But there are people who have beat all odds and never let their past come in the way of their dreams. Some of them have turned out to be more famous and successful than many with a clean record. Let’s look at some of the ex-felons who made it big.
1. Robert Downey Jr.
One of the highest paid Hollywood actors, Robert Downey Jr. was in the midst of a lot of legal and substance abuse troubles. Although the legal trouble went on for a long period, it did not deter him from becoming what he aspired to be. He has been a part of Hollywood’s highest grossing movies of all times. In 2008, he was among Time’s 100 Most Influential people in the world.
2. Kevin Mitnick
Today Kevin Mitnick is a well-known computer security consultant and an author. He was arrested in 1995 for hacking and computer related crimes and served 5 years in prison. But later, Kevin turned his life around completely and today, he run a firm called Mitnick Security Consulting LLC that does security consulting for fortune 500 companies.
3. Daniel Manville
Daniel Manville spent 3 years and 4 months on charges of manslaughter. During his time in prison, he studied a lot of book on Law. He earned two college degrees and successfully graduated from law school. Now, he is a professor at The Michigan State University of Law and also the director of MSU Civil Rights Clinic.
4. Danny Trejo
Danny Trejo is a well-known face who appeared in over 200 Hollywood movies like Heat, Expendables, etc. and top-rated television shows like Breaking Bad and Flash. He has served time for drug charges. During his time in San Quentin, he became a champion boxer in prison’s lightweight and welterweight divisions. During that period, he also overcame his addiction and has been sober since then. Apart from being a popular film personality, Danny also runs a chain of successfully restaurants in Los Angeles.
5. Frank William Abagnale
Frank started writing fraudulent cheques since the age of 16. He wrote fraudulent cheques amounting to $2.5 Million dollars in total. He was one of the most notorious imposters and often took identities of doctors, lawyers, college professors, etc to commit frauds. He spent 5 years in prison for his crimes. After getting released, he worked for the U.S. government as an advisor on fraud related cases. Today, he runs his own financial fraud consultancy company called “Abagnale and Associates”. The popular Hollywood movie “Catch me if you can” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks and directed by ace director Steven Spielberg was inspired by his life.
6. Shon Robert Hopwood
Shon Hopwood is another felon who completely turned his life around after serving jail time. Shon served time in prison for bank robbery charges. While in prison, he discovered his liking for law and later became a U.S. supreme court practitioner by the time he was released. He is an appellate lawyer and also a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Centre. The fact that a convicted felon was able to become a successful lawyer shows that a felony record should not stop someone from going after something that they want to achieve.
7. Judge Greg Mathis
As a teenager, Greg joined a notorious Detroit street gang and was arrested multiple times in the 1970s. At the age to 17 while serving time, he was offered early probation as his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. He went on to attend Eastern Michigan University. His Emmy award winning reality courtroom show “Judge Mathis” was first aired in 1999 and has completed over 20 seasons.
8. Dave Dahl
Dave Dahl is an entrepreneur known for co-founding the popular bread brand– Dave’s Killer Bread in the year 2005. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Dave used to work in his family bakery. In his teenage, Dave got into smoking and consuming drugs and dropped out of high school in 1980. He got incarcerated for the first time in 1987. Since then, he has been in and out of prison several times. He spent more than 15 years in prison for multiple offenses including drug distribution, burglary, armed robbery and assault.
9. Tracy Mackness
Another convicted felon on our list who made it big is Tracy Mackness. Popularly known as sausage queen and owner of the successful million-dollar sausage business – The Giggly Pig Company, Tracy was in an out of prison from her 20s for drug related charges. Her autobiography – Jail Bird: The Life and Crimes of an Essex Bad Girl is a best seller. In fact, the producers of Shameless are even considering it as a possible Channel 4 sitcom.
10. Piper Kerman
Piper Kerman was indicted in 1998 for money laundering activities and she served 13 months in a federal correctional facility. The popular Netflix comedy-drama series “Orange is the New Black” is based on her popular memoir, Orange is the New Black: My year in a Women’s Prison. She now works as a communication strategist for non-profit organizations.
11. Junior Johnson
Robert Johnson Jr. popularly known as Junior Johnson has spent one year in prison for possessing bootleg liquor. Later, he became a NASCAR driver winning 50 races. In 1986, he was granted a presidential pardon for the 1956 moonshine conviction.
Image Credits : Wikipedia