Judge Greg Mathis

JUDGE MATHIS had “a rap sheet a mile long” back in his Motown gang banger era.

Popular reality TV jurist Greg Mathis knows what it’s like to be a defendant – he was one himself!

The star of “Judge Mathis” was raised by a single mom in one of the worst housing projects in Detroit, Mich.

During the ‘70s, he joined the notorious Motown street gang called the Errol Flynns and was busted numerous times, said a source.

“The gang was prominent on Detroit’s east side and grew to over 400 members,” said the source.

“When he was a member, Greg stole and got involved in drugs. He had a rap sheet a mile long.”

Mathis landed behind bars for carrying a gun at age 17. But thanks to his mother, Alice, he managed to break free of the gang.

“I was sitting in jail when my mother begged me to turn my life around, because she’d been
diagnosed with cancer and had only 12 months to live,” Mathis

She convinced a judge to give her son a second chance, and the troubled teen was released on probation.

“Greg was throwing his life away,” added the source. “He’s lucky to have even survived.”

After getting straight, Mathis landed a job at McDonald’s and a cousin helped him enroll in Eastern Michigan University. He was accepted to law school and earned a degree from the University of Detroit Mercy.

Mathis acted as head of Jesse Jackson’s presidential campaign in Michigan in 1988, and was elected a district court judge for Michigan’s 36th District at age 34 in 1995. He was the youngest person in the state to hold the post and served for five years.

“Judge Mathis” was launched in 1999, and is now seen on 300 stations across America.

Mathis has worked on a project with BET focusing on unsolved murders, and his memoir, “Inner City Miracle,” was published in 2002.

Despite his wealth and TV fame, Mathis hasn’t forgotten his Motor City roots, said the source.

“Greg has given back to his troubled hometown by opening the Mathis Community Center.”