NASHVILLE (WSMV) - In 1984, State Representative Antonio Parkinson was a high school football player in Texas, a standout athlete, new to the team, and a victim of bullying.

"The bullying actually started in the locker room where some elder classmen that were on the varsity team, and I was on the sophomore team," Parkinson said. "I went to the coaches about it, and you are playing Texas football, and they ain't trying to hear that."

There were stare-downs, intentional bumps in the hall, and threats of violence. Unfortunately, the coaches chose not to intervene, so Parkinson quit the football team.

"If the coaches don't care about it, then let them have it," Parkinson remembered. "Thinking that it would end, but it continued throughout. Down the hallways in different places inside the school."

Growing up in a rough neighborhood, Parkinson saw first-hand how bullies were dealt with.

"I saw people get shot, literally after harassing and messing with people they thought were weaker than them," Parkinson said.

Those shootings, filtered through the mind of a 14-year-old, made the solution clear. After an entire year of bullying, Parkinson sat in front of his school with the intent to shoot and kill the four bullies.

"I will never forget it," Parkinson said. "Like it was yesterday. We were in a huddle right outside the school. My friend had two guns. A real one and a fake one and they both looked just alike. You could tell the difference, and he had them in the palm of his hand. He was like, which one you want? This the real one, this the fake one? Give me the real one. Without hesitation. Without thinking about it. Without even a second delay. I said, give me the real one because I'm the one that they are after."

That gun never left his pocket. A friend alerted the school principal. Parkinson was arrested and taken to jail.

"I lost a lot. I lost a lot." Parkinson said. "I was kicked out of school. Lost all my grades for an entire school year. I was labeled the bad kid for bringing a gun to school. These guys continued to play football. Continued with school like it was business as usual."

Parkinson credits a strong family and the Marine Corps for his transformation. The 37 years since the incident have diminished the pain. A pain replaced by 37 years of lessons, forgiveness, and change.

"You talk about a change in trajectory from this person now being a state representative sitting before you versus this person being an inmate in the Texas prison," he said. "That close, right?"

Often it's the decisions made at the crossroads that affect the rest of your life. For Parkinson, he has turned his wounds into unapologetic wisdom.

"So, State Representative Antonio Parkinson would tell 14-year-old Antonio Parkinson to find the baddest (expletive) in there, and you hit him in his mouth," Parkinson said. "And then the rest of them will flee. You don't have to bring the gun. Don't bring the gun."

In 2014, Parkinson helped Tennessee become the first state to pass a Workplace Bullying law. He believes that childhood bullies grow up to repeat those same traits. And he is doing what he can to make sure no other child is faced with the decision he had to make.

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