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(via The Chicago Tribune)

In September they were two teens heading into senior year. Vashion ‘B.J.’ Bullock and Montrell Truitt lived in the same neighborhood on the Far South Side, were classmates at Fenger High School and were being raised by the firm hands of protective mothers.

Two weeks into the school year their paths diverged.

Both were swept into a deadly brawl among Fenger students that was caught on video and broadcast to the world. Sixteen-year-old Derrion Albert lost his life and five teens were locked up in his murder.  Bullock and Truitt walked away to find their school year suddenly and dramatically redefined. Bullock was deemed an aggressor in the fight. Truitt was classified as a victim.

But in the months that followed, as they faced the fallout, neither teen would allow those labels to dictate the outcome of his final year of high school.

‘A second chance’

It was 8:06 a.m., morning drills had already started and B.J. Bullock was running late. He had to catch the bus to Muhammad University of Islam on Tuesdays because his mother underwent dialysis before sunrise. While his book bag was being searched, he straightened his suit and tie, anxious to fall into formation.

‘Eyes to the left. Left. Left. Left,’ Dwayne Muhammad, the dean of boys, called out to his young pledges, who turned in unison. ‘Original salute. Brigade salute. As you were. Face to right. About face. Head up. Elbow up.’

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