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October 3rd, 2012
09:05 AM ET

'Lil JaXe' finds refuge in rap

Editor's note: In the Human Factor, we profile survivors who have overcome the odds. Confronting a life obstacle – injury, illness or other hardship – they tapped their inner strength and found resilience they didn't know they possessed. Jake Zeldin, 13, endured a lot of bullying, from classmates and even some teachers, all because he has a severe stutter. Then he discovered rap. He took the stage at the "We Day" event in Toronto, Ontario, last month.

September 28, 2012, was the most awesome moment that I have ever experienced in my whole entire life. My first reaction was that I was so excited. I could not wait to get to the Air Canada Center and rock the stage.

After two weeks of practicing, I was about to go on the same stage as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Elton John and all of my other favorites. So many emotions were running through my head.

I started thinking about how different my life was a year ago - how it was so hard to get through a day because of the way people teased me and bullied me. All I wanted to do was to show people how well I could rap. It was the only thing I wanted to do.

Every chance I got, I tried to get in front of the right people to show them my talent. When you finally find your voice, you can't wait to use it. I've always had so much to say, but now that I found the way to share my mind and let the words flow, I wanted the whole world to hear me. The more people doubted me and teased me, the more it pushed me to try harder and harder to get noticed.

Today, that was all behind me.

As I got dressed, my heart raced as I thought about all of my fans and the people who were looking up to me to succeed. I knew I had to do it for everyone who ever had an obstacle to get over and a dream that they so badly wanted to come true.

I've had so many incredible moments but this was so far the best of them all. I could feel the power as I waited backstage.  I quickly peeked out into the crowd and saw the whole entire stadium filled with eager fans. I tweeted that I was going on just to help make it real.

We Day is about sharing and living a life of giving because you get so much back when you help others. I want to speak out; I've gotta speak up.  I want to reach out and stand up. I won't stand for all of what I had to take cause there's a better world and we can make it better together. That is what We Day was about for me, and there I was about to share my moment and my message with thousands of people.

I was really there. People were screaming and cheering. I finally heard my name being announced. I wanted to respond, but I was frozen with fear. Then something came over me and I knew that I was meant to do this.

I ran on stage and looked down at 20,000 people staring back at me. They were shouting my name, waving their arms and cheering me on. The most amazing feeling came over me; I realized that my whole struggle up to this point was meant for this amazing moment and others that hopefully will follow.

I opened up my mouth to rap and the crowd went crazy. They jumped to their feet and I could not believe that this was all for me: My beats, my words and sound rapping about what I know and what I have felt.

Because at the end of the day, I am just a kid with a dream.


soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Truth

    if this would have been about snoop lion, nicki manji, chris brown, rhianna, 50cent, or any other black rap artist this page would be full of negative comments. I love this story and his achievement but just gotta put the truth out there.

    October 3, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sassysticks53

      I know what you mean. Racism and bigotry suck! My heart goes out to this kid though.

      October 3, 2012 at 15:56 | Report abuse |
    • TweetyBird337(Wilson Area Intermediate School)

      This kid is like Legit Awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!! He inspires alot of people even me................as soon as i got home from school for watching this i had to get back on CNN NEWS and hear what happened myself.
      And yes.....I'm only 13 years old but i understand alot!!!!

      October 5, 2012 at 22:40 | Report abuse |
  2. TheOneLane

    I've got tears in my eyes from watching the video

    October 3, 2012 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. sara

    good for you jake! you are truly an inspiration for everyone. THANK YOU

    October 3, 2012 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. sassysticks53

    Good for you, kid!

    October 3, 2012 at 15:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. knines

    Inner city youth go through these things like this on a daily but no one seems to care...but its a story when the person is not of color...we live in two societies seperate and unequal...its 2012

    October 3, 2012 at 17:11 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Truth

      Thats the way it needs to be. Look at the crime statistics of the inner cities compared to a white neighborhood. You can call me names like racist, but you cant dispute the facts.

      October 3, 2012 at 20:27 | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      It's all about economics. The poor and minorities fill the prisons because of a lack of money.

      October 6, 2012 at 16:59 | Report abuse |
  6. knines

    I HAPPY THAT HE HAS OVERCOME HIS FEARS AND SURVIVED THE TRAUMA THAT LIFE HAS PUT HIM THROUGH..THERE are OTHER STORIES OUT THERE THAT WE NEED TO COVER..

    October 3, 2012 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Truth

    Rap music has changed many young black males lives. Thousands are dead and in prison for trying to emulate the pathetic thug lifestyle.

    October 3, 2012 at 20:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mitch

      My LIL rapper is a CHEMICAL ENGINEER. Made his own beats and lyrics. Used mightily by the school.

      October 6, 2012 at 17:01 | Report abuse |
  8. zaida

    this is an inspiration to all people who have dreams to fulfill.

    October 3, 2012 at 23:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. rose

    well us as adults on here talking about these subjects is not the example to teach our kids to not think racist

    October 4, 2012 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. ummwut

    Hard to imagine how you idiots believe this so easily. It's so obvious he's faking it.

    October 4, 2012 at 09:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • usuk

      you are a complete ass hole

      October 4, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse |
    • vicc Lynn

      he is not faking it. I also been stuttering since birth. Still stutter bad sometimes. when I rap, I dont stutter at all. I got a video on youtube called bizznessman under stillz1. its a blessing within..

      October 5, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse |
  11. vicc Lynn

    This is awesome. I was the exact same as Jake. I talk with a stutter but I got the meanest flow around. Keep you head up lil man, ill meet ya soon. I am 36 years old and still stutter and still got the coldest flows.

    October 5, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Colby

    Yo Jake!!!!Dont worry homie!!I've stuttered for 24 years now.Im 32 now.I grew up with people bullying and teasing me too.Just use it as motivation!!!Keep them on your mind so when you really make it big believe me all those who teased and bullied will be the 1st to buy your album when it drops!!!!Keep up the good work and just know that some of the most successful people on earth stutters!!!!We're not the only 1's!!!!! #MOTIVATIONHOMIE

    October 5, 2012 at 09:02 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Heather

      The comments are not going to the kid there going to CNN student news.

      October 5, 2012 at 11:02 | Report abuse |
    • Mitch

      Colby, u can be assured, he IS reading these posts. It's his story.

      October 6, 2012 at 17:02 | Report abuse |
  13. Lynne

    Has anyone thought of testing Jake for hand dominance. In other words, is he a "crossed dominant" – someone who was meant to be left handed but is right handed. This has been linked to stuttering, learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc..

    October 6, 2012 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Don Schiewer Jr

    Reblogged this on pa5t0rd and commented:
    a must read

    October 6, 2012 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. tjweiss70

    wow i can rap but not as good as him
    haha is really good

    October 8, 2012 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
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    I've learn several just right stuff here. Definitely worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how much effort you place to create such a wonderful informative website.

    December 4, 2012 at 00:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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