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AJ was born in Congo and came to England when he was two years old. He got caught up in gang culture but now he has turned his back on his old lifestyle and is determined to make a better future for himself.
AJ Nakasila - A Biography
Why I made these films
"I wanted to make these films 'cause I was seeing some of the things that were going on and I wanted change. By that I mean I wanted to at least touch someone who is in the position I was in, or who's even worse off than I was. I feel I've done that in these films, showed people that they're not alone and proved that you can make something out of nothing.
"For the younger ones who are impressed by what they see, I want to show them the other side, the damage it can do to their life and to their family's life. I want them not just to think short-term but to see long-term - get educated, work hard for your dreams, and down the line your dreams will be fulfilled by your hard work. God bless."
I was born in Congo and came to England when I was two years old. I moved around East London with my father and stepmother living in hostels. I can remember seeing lots of rats and thinking they were little cats.
We always moved around different places. I went to my first primary school where I was expelled for bad behaviour and not paying attention. At my next school I met my best friend - Trebla - but again I didn't stay for long as I was kicked out again.
You see what you have to understand is the teachers just saw this bad kid when I really wasn't, I was just going through problems at home that I couldn't talk about 'cause I was too scared. I was being bullied at home so I resorted to bullying when I got to school.
"I wanted to touch someone who is in the position I was in, or who's even worse off than I was. I feel I've done that in these films, showed people that they're not alone and proved that you can make something out of nothing." - AJ
In secondary school, I was the little cheeky boy in year 7, funny and always wanting all the attention. I used to always hang around with the big kids because I had a bit of a name for being rude and had older cousins who were known, so I got away with a lot.
Home life was bad. The teachers used to complain to my dad about the way I would come to school; I was always hungry, my clothes were not clean but my dad's excuse was that he was a single parent. He would often go out and leave me at home and have lots of different girlfriends around the house. I was an attention seeker in school because I didn't get enough attention at home.
So I started hanging out really late, sometimes I would come home at 1 o'clock in the morning, walking alone at night to just clear my head. Most of the times I came home late my dad didn't really care, but when he had been drinking he would beat me up. I knew the difference between discipline and being beaten up. At 14 I'd had enough and ran away.
I joined the biggest gang in East London. At that time there were 52 of us. I saw the changes in people's faces when they saw me 'cause now I wasn't just me, I was AJ with jeepers on his back. I started raving and going back to my foster home late and sometimes not going home at all. The gang put me in charge of recruiting members and as I was the youngest member, I got more attention from girls.
Anyone who spoke badly about me would get beaten up, but I soon saw the other side of things. Rival gangs started joining up to try and get us. People were getting stabbed and friends were going to prison. We were investigated by the police and people in school began to dislike me because of the person I was turning into.
It ended when one person died. The gang split up. Some went to prison and some just left and went back to school. Others went the other way and ended up getting arrested and imprisoned again. I was confused, I thought the world was against me but some of the reputation I had developed was because I was protecting others from bullies.
I was sent to Community Links, a charity which helps vulnerable kids in East London. It was here that I became the AJ I am today. It was at that time that I looked deep inside myself and asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life. I started working hard, passed my exams and became a favorite of the teachers, everyone liked me again. Then the teachers decided to enroll me for college.
But for some reason I just couldn't let the past be the past. I would get angry when jokes were made about my mum or dad, so I met up with some people, started talking with them more and more, and soon we set up The Stratford Boys. Again, it ended because some people grew up and started to work, some went prison and some died.
This was the last organised gang I was involved in and will ever be involved in.
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