When do I stop being a criminal? | Hassan "MVP" Assad | TEDxUAMonticello

Before he was a celebrity, a WWE United States champion, and an action figure, Hassan “MVP” Assad was a prisoner. More than 30 years after he committed his crime and 20 years since release, he still finds himself constantly “repaying his debt to society.” In this remarkable talk, Assad asks the important question: when will society decide a person is no longer in need of punishment? When will he stop being a criminal? Best known as a champion with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), he is a Social Media powerhouse with over half a million followers.

Yet life has not always been plain sailing for this Miami native.

After joining a Graffiti Crew at a very young age, life quickly descended into chaos.

At the age of 16, he pleaded guilty to charges of Kidnapping and Armed Robbery following a world famous heist in Florida. Tried as an adult, a teenage MVP was sentenced to 18 and a half years in prison.

His outlook was grim – a number of his friends and acquaintances had been shot dead or sent to Prison. A Florida prison full of murderers, drug dealers and sex offenders was no place for a 16 year old.

MVP went onto become a two-time US Heavyweight Champion before he shocked the WWE Universe by amicably agreeing to part ways with the WWE in 2010. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at


42 thoughts on “When do I stop being a criminal? | Hassan "MVP" Assad | TEDxUAMonticello”

  1. As a convicted felon I understand this all too well. You can be more skilled and work harder than anyone else, but because you made a poor choice 20-30 years ago you will be judged by society. I was very lucky and a call center gave me a chance when no one else would. That call center happened to do contract work for Microsoft, this ended up looking very good on a resume.

  2. Are you still a murderer after 20 years??
    Does the person/victim killed by the murderer come back to life after 20 years?

    Should you an armed robber be free from debt yes, you just took items. Should a drug addict instead get help? yes, A scammer ? yes.
    But a MURDERER? come on

  3. The U.S. is 4% of the world's population but has 25% of the world's incarcerated persons. He was denied rehabilitation in his own country but was received with open arms in a foreign land.

  4. This is so true, as a convicted felon it took me 8 years after getting out of prison to get a full time job and something more than day labor. Even after getting past that and finding a decent job I still can't get a place to live. It doesn't matter that I committed my crime when I was 15 and I'm now 37, or that I worked for Microsoft for 7 years. All that matter to people is my mistake as a teenager.

  5. Came here after watching his BJJ video, brother is keeping it strong and has a family and seems happy now. Glad for him, he was very entertaining in the WWE and seems like a nice and smart guy in general

  6. Man, I remember being a fan of MVP as just an 11 year old kid. Even though I religiously followed WWE and read up on whatever I could, kayfabe or non-kayfabe from the early days of my fandom on, I somehow never stumbled across the fact that the guy I saw and cheered on live at a house show had served 9 years in prison. And now I listen to this and I agree with almost everything he says. And more, actually, even as someone who doesn't live in the US I know enough about the law and prison system there to have a tremendous amount of criticism for it, I feel like he was being very calm and reserved about it, probably not to undermine the point he's making by being straight forward from the difficult position he's in as a convicted felon himself. The one thing I disagree with though is the example he has chosen when he said when does a murderer stop being a murderer. Because that's the one crime that you never stop being guilty for. The one crime where you made the conscious, premeditated decision to act against the highest law of society. Murder, whether successfully executed or a failed attempt, is the one crime that should land you in prison for life imo. With an armed robber, I'm fully on his side, he served his sentence, he should get the fair chance to do better from the day he walks out of those prison confines. In fact, I was always super bummed he never got that world title run. MVP in 2007 was pure gold, only surpassed by one of the greatest of all times, Edge, in terms of being a top heel during this period.

  7. I want to ask something personally to Hassan Hamin Assad, how did you find out of Islam? I am a Muslim too, I want to know how did you come to the path of ALLAH

  8. this made me cry. Very inspiring. Being in jail is another type of mountain to climb. I also want to remind of the criminal code (see TED TALK) which all criminals follow: don't let your buddies down, don't hurt women or children, don't steal from the poor. Who brakes this code will be punished or killed by the other inmates. Jails are split in two parts to protect those who have broken the code.

  9. 45 people don't believe in reformation and rehabilitation. Sad, those are likely the same types of people denying jobs to good people who made bad decisions.

  10. Wow. Fun to see him in his character and zone as a sports entertainer…..but seeing the man in this light and his perspective Ive got nothing but love for that perseverance and determination.

  11. This was a great Ted-Talk. Even though I am not an American (Canadian) it still hits home when I applied for jobs and had to fill out the background checks for those places. It puts them in a different perspective that I hadnt thought about before.

  12. He had me up untill ' when is a murderer not a murderer' …… um never lmao idc of he gets out or not, im not going to treat him.or her like doodie if they alright peiple after they get out, but im damn sure always gunna be thinkin about 'this mf killed somebody to death'. Thats where my heads at on this.

  13. He shouldnt wear these pants with those shoes. Makes him look like he has the smallest legs lol.
    Nonetheless great talk, love the guy

  14. He became the brain of hurt Bussniess to win wwe champion and us champion, tag team champion. I give credit to this man.

  15. I experienced something similar, only mine was a misdemeanor at 33, trying to get a job was impossible… Luckly after the judge heard my case she threw it out, then all these jobs i applied too were calling me back like car salesmen… So i can only imagine what a former felon goes through…

  16. interesting to hear MVP tell of how what he did 30 years ago still impacts on his life today, even though he totally changed his life around. He's still giving back to society today through the work he does with young people and ex-convicts and as he said "he's MVP, on television, your kids play with my figure".

  17. He was an entertaining star on TV. It's sad to hear that he's had and is still having a tough life 🙁

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