By Greg Argos

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A world-famous boxer revisited Glen Mills Schools on Tuesday.

Before he was known as The Executioner, former middleweight boxing champion Bernard Hopkins led a troubled life when a judge sent him to Glen Mills Schools by age 15. And he later served time at Graterford Prison for nine felonies.

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“I think you should pay attention because paying attention for me came a little late but better late than never,” Hopkins told the youth.

The now 53-year-old Hopkins spoke to young teens who made poor decisions and are trying to get their lives on the right path.

“Bernard comes from the same background as many of the students do,” Jeffrey Hill, an instructor, said.

The program is part of the schools’ character and development series.

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“We try to give our kids a glimpse of what successful life looks like and sometimes in successful life, there are hurdles and bumps in the road,” Hill said.

And what better example than from the man who navigated around every one of those bumps.

“My message is to let them know tap into your talents, tap into your gift,” Hopkins said.

Four hundred students, convicted of various crimes, from all over the country, were at full attention Tuesday afternoon and listened to Hopkins’ important message

“In life, don’t put yourself in position to have someone throw in the towel on you. Some things there is no coming back,” Hopkins said.

Dershaun McPherson, a student said, “To find out he was here and he was sitting in the same seats I’m sitting in now, it’s kind of surprising.”

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Another student, Corde Fitzhugh said, “It’s giving me the hope in myself and the belief in myself that I can actually do it myself because that’s my plan.”