Published: Aug 01, 2012 6:39 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 01, 2012 6:50 PM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - If you research Jerry Lee Davis, you'll find a history of run-ins with police and time spent in jail.

He says he can relate to the criminals running around the streets of Fort Myers, contributing to the violence, but his goal is to make his story a force for good.

"Lots of people have seen me on the streets," Davis says, "and now a lot of people are seeing me do positive."

For the 35-year-old that change didn't come until about 6 years ago, when he was locked up for drug possession, resisting arrest, and violating parole.

He started thinking about his life, and the people who came to him for drugs.

"It made me cringe when I sold them things, and everyday that I sold them things, I cried because it's like, 'God I don't want this anymore. This isn't the way I'm supposed to be,'" he says.

Fort Myers Police say many of the 15 murders this year have been related to drugs, and some of the victims have had previous arrests.

Davis understands the mentality that drives some of the city's youth to crime and has been through it himself.

"Everybody wants to be the toughest, the strongest, the smartest, the richest, but they never take into consideration what it's going to cost them to have 5 minutes of fame," he says.

Davis now runs a graphic art business, selling t-shirts and posters highlighting positive things about his community. One of his projects includes a series of posters featuring the Dunbar High School ladies basketball team and their win at the state championship.

He hopes his story inspires others to turn their lives around too.

Omar Rieche, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, says troubled kids can make the same changes Davis did, but it takes effort from people on the outside.

"It's a community problem, it's not just a parent problem. These are teens that need role models outside the family, support, and opportunities -- job opportunities and vocational opportunities," Rieche says.

Davis agrees, saying the messages he heard while out on the streets all boiled down to the same thing.

"Everybody's struggle was, 'Nobody's there to care about me. Nobody's there to hold my hand while I'm going through something. Nobody's there to make a difference in my life,'"he says.