Lesra Martin is an inspiring example of the power that one person has to make a difference. As a fifteen year-old youth, Lesra's life took a turn with a series of incredible events and coincidences. He was taken in by a group of idealistic Canadians, and moved from his home in New York to Toronto. Despite having been one of his school's top students at the time, Lesra was functionally illiterate, and began the process of learning to read with the hope that he could eventually achieve his dream of attending university.
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Shortly after arriving in Toronto, Lesra purchased his first book at a used book sale (for 25 cents), The 16th Round: From #1 Contender to Prisoner #45472. Lesra immediately became engrossed with Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's incredible autobiography and upon completing The 16th Round, wrote a letter to Carter who at the time was 13 years into a triple-life sentence for a crime he did not commit. This began an incredible and unlikely friendship, which started with letters, and then phone calls and visits by Lesra to Trenton State Prison in New Jersey where Carter was incarcerated. Lesra's newly found Canadian family took up the cause to free Carter from prison and after 5 years of tireless investigative work, legal wranglings and appeals, Carter was finally freed and cleared of all charges.
Since then, Lesra has completed high school (as an Ontario scholar), received his Honours B.A. from the University of Toronto, and then completed his law degree at Dalhousie University. He is now a Crown Attorney in British Columbia. His story was the subject of a best-selling book entitled Lazarus and the Hurricane and is featured in the new motion picture "The Hurricane" starring Denzel Washington and directed by Norman Jewison.
Through his inspiring presentations, Lesra shows audiences that the power to make a difference exists in each of us. Organizations throughout North America including Hewlett-Packard, McDonald's and International Subway Corporation have heard his powerful story and have been left with the understanding and belief that each of us can turn coincidence into opportunity, and adversity into triumph.
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