NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Sometimes second chances only come once in a lifetime.
It’s even more difficult took get it after being in prison for second-degree murder, unless you work hard like Nashville barbershop owner, Tristan Buckner.
Tristan's family and friends describe him as a genuine person with a good heart. He can also give you a dope haircut.
He’s now branching out of that role to try and become a mentor to young people. He wants to stop all this violence from happening.
Tristan made a mistake once that landed him behind bars for 12 years and 9 months. He thinks his story could help stop someone from making a life-changing decision.
“I actually started my first barber shop with a friend. A good friend of mine who actually invested in me. I've never looked back ever since,” Tristan said.
Tristan has always been interested in cutting hair. In high school that was like his side hustle. He now does it as a full-time job.
“I've met Titans players. I've met some of the people in the city who may be some most prominent people come with Tristan. That's why he's called 'Celebrity Barber,'” Tristan’s client Alfred Degrafinried said.
Tristan has worked hard to become known at the “Celebrity Barber” in Music City.
“Tristan was the kind of child very inquisitive, never mean, never talked back. And just by looking at my child, you would think he was perfect young man, but you never know what a child is doing behind your back,” Tristan’s mother, Mary Buckner said.
“I was a loyal friend and have always been a loyal person. I was the down friend. If I'm with you, I’m with you. That type of attitude can get you in a ton of trouble,” Tristan explained.
His way of thinking as a young 20-year-old caught up with him 1995 in Montgomery County.
Tristan was on his way to pick up his schoolteacher mother when he opened fire on a car full of people, he had beef with.
Something he now he calls spontaneous and stupid.
“I couldn't tell you how many shots and it was numerous. It was a semi-automatic gun and I hit the street and kept on driving. It dawned on me when 15 police cars and state troopers surrounded me. I was going to pick them up my mother and I was getting myself picked up,” Tristan said.
“I wanted to get to the heart of what happened? I had no idea I did not know these guys. I did not know anything was going on. I was in the dark,” Mary explained.
Tristan’s quick decision landed him behind bars.
“I was initially charged with one count of first-degree murder and four counts of first-degree attempted murder. I ended up settling for one count of second-degree murder and acknowledged the attempted murders. I ended up 50 years and 30%.” Tristan said.
“I couldn't break down because if I did then I couldn't help him. So, I had to keep it together.” Mary explained.
While Tristan’s family prayed for him, Tristan took matters into his own hands behind bars.
He finished getting his barber license, documented how he was growing as a person, and reflected on how he was going to change his life around if he got out.
His opportunity came when he earned parole in 2007.
“I was the happiest mother in the world. I was there to see him. Anytime he needed me. I was there,” Mary said.
Tristan doesn’t shy away about his story. He wants to take everything he’s learned and teach young people how to make better decisions.
“I try to talk to them and let them know you have choices. You have to realize you have to wait things out before you act you know. If not, what they say ignorance is no excuse to the law,” Tristan said.
He’s recently launched a podcast called “Living Just Enough” and has a book series to share his story. He also offers help to parents trying to raise a “problem” child and offers advice to young people.
He wants to stop someone from making a bad decision like he did.
Also, let them know you don’t have to be defined by your past or life circumstances.
“What do they say experience is the best teacher. Look what this man did. I can do the same thing if I put my mind to it, but you got to want to do it yourself. No one can do it for you,” Mary said.
Tristan is also raising funds to open up a Barber school that offers felons and at-risk youth a chance at a chance to provide a stable living.
D.F. Barber Academy will give people a second chance as well as an alternative to college that can provide a path to the American Dream, Tristan said.