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13-Year-Old Paints Backpack in Honor of Exonerated 5 to Raise Awareness in School

13-Year-Old Paints Backpack in Honor of Exonerated 5 to Raise Awareness in School

13-year-old Tyler Gordon is a self taught artist with a pulse on the culture and history. After meeting the Exonerated 5 during the BET Awards, Tyler was so moved that he began painting images to honor Kevin, Antron, Raymond, Korey and Yusef. 

When it came to selecting the perfect backpack to carry him into the 8th grade, the one he wanted didn't exist. After searching the internet Tyler found inspiration in an image of the Exonerated 5 by Serygraphy, grabbed a white backpack and began making his masterpiece. 

“I chose to paint them on my backpack so that kids at my school and other adults would be reminded of what happened to them,” Gordon told Because of Them We Can.

While Gordon’s mother, Nicole Kindle, wishes her teenage son didn’t have to worry about “the talk” or teaching her son the protocol of hands up and how to interact with the police, she says she’s happy that Tyler is using his talent for good.

“I’m extremely proud of him. He took his gifts that he was blessed with and [is] using them to raise awareness for the things going on in the world,” Kindle said.

As far as his encounter with the Exonerated 5, it has changed Tyler’s perspective forever.

“I was very excited when I met them because they acted themselves and I felt glad for them because they didn’t let [what happened to them] bring their whole lives down,” he said.

Tyler also knows a little bit about what it means to persevere in the face of adversity. According to Kindle, he was born deaf and didn’t say his first words until he was six years old. That's when he had a breakthrough surgery to unfuse the bones behind his ears. 

With his heart for the people and his paintbrush, Tyler’s work and impact continues to speak for itself.

Thus far his masterpieces have garnered him praise from Janet Jackson, Steve Harvey, Kevin Hart, Jennifer Lopez, Richard Sherman and countless others to name a few. Not bad for someone who has only been painting for two years. 

Keep going Tyler, we’re rooting for you! To see more of his work visit him at