CHICAGO — After hitting rock bottom, Jamie Leibert decided that jumping out of airplanes was a better idea than committing felonies.
Leibert spent four years in an 11-foot-by-7-foot prison cell, at times in isolation, for a series of drug and weapon charges. When he was released from prison six years ago, he transferred his addiction to drugs into extreme sports — while trying to help kids along the way.
Leibert is the founder of the charity Just Care More, which shows underprivileged children that sports can be an alternative to gangs and drugs. Leibert, who lives out of his tour bus that travels the country, is in Chicago this week, stopping at Bridgeport's Valentine Boys and Girls Club, 3400 S. Emerald Ave., at 3 p.m. Thursday to speak in front of 200 kids. On Saturday, he's leading a Color Fun Fest at Soldier Field, where runners jaunt 1.8 miles as colored paint is sprayed and poured on them.
"I want to show people that extreme sports can save anybody," said Leibert, who has made at least 750 skydiving trips and routinely performs jumps off cliffs wearing a wing suit.
"There's definitely a lot of stuff going on in Chicago, and I want to bring awareness to at-risk teens that are looking at violent rap music or crazy violent video games as activities. None of that is real life."
Leibert, who battled homelessness, drug abuse and other problems for most of his life, said he still has compulsions — but those are now to find the next great sports challenge.
"The whole point is to replace one addiction with another," he said. "When you put hard work into extreme sports, the rewards are insane."
For more information on the Color Fest, click here.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: