MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hope Crayton couldn't be more proud of her son. He was threatened by two men who wanted him to join their gang, but the scared 17-year-old had the courage to say no.
"Oh, I'm so proud of him to say no because gang life is nothing," Crayton said.
The gang members drove up next to him while he and his friend were walking to a store in their North Memphis neighborhood Tuesday afternoon.
"They was telling my son he have a nice build. They asked him who was he with?" Crayton said. "My son was like, 'No, I'm nothing. I'm good.'"
The men left but drove up again as the two teens were walking home from the store.
"They stopped him and jumped out on him and his friend," Crayton said.
Crayton said both gang members tried to hurt her son because he wouldn't join them, and when he ran off, the two men got back in their car and chased him all the way home.
"Once he made it to the house, he was like, 'Mom, come to the front door,'" Crayton said.
And when she did, the men were right there.
"The guy on the driver's side, he got out, and he said, 'I'm trying to get your son on some mob-type money stuff,' and I'm like, 'That's not for you to do. He's 17. He's a minor, and that's my child," Crayton said.
Crayton said the gang member in the passenger's seat didn't like that response and pulled out an AR-15 rifle.
"He said now, I'm finna smack the s*** out of you," Crayton said
Scared, but resolute, Crayton went inside to grab her own gun.
"I couldn't do nothing but be mama bear and do what mama bear do, take care of her cubs," she said.
Thankfully, she never had to pull the trigger because the two men drove off.
"I pray for them. I actually pray for them," Crayton said.
And if they come back, she said she'll be ready to defend her family. She's willing to do anything that keeps her son away from bad influences and life in a gang.
"He's going to be my age when I get old, and I want him to be something great," Crayton said.
She said he wants to go into the military like his 19-year-old brother, who's currently serving abroad.