Here is the full transcript of Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll’s Talk: How I Learned to Read – and Trade Stocks – in Prison at TED conference.
I was 14 years old inside of a bowling alley, burglarizing an arcade game, and upon exiting the building a security guard grabbed my arm, so I ran. I ran down the street, and I jumped on top of a fence.
And when I got to the top, the weight of 3,000 quarters in my book bag pulled me back down to the ground. So when I came to, the security guard was standing on top of me, and he said, “Next time you little punks steal something you can carry.”
I was taken to juvenile hall and when I was released into the custody of my mother, the first words my uncle said was, “How’d you get caught?”
I said, “Man, the book bag was too heavy.”
He said, “Man, you weren’t supposed to take all the quarters.”
I said, “Man, they were small. What am I supposed to do?”
And 10 minutes later, he took me to burglarize another arcade game. We needed gas money to get home. That was my life.
I grew up in Oakland, California, with my mother and members of my immediate family addicted to crack cocaine.