Carson City resident Daniel James Horrigan says he has a soft spot for children in his heart.
He says that's why he talks to children and teens about the mistakes he has made in his life.
Horrigan, a self-professed ex-criminal and master martial artist, spoke Tuesday to several hundred teenagers at Carson High School with a combination of martial arts demonstration and straight talk.
"I try to get them with their hearts," he said. "They don't care about what you know until they know that you care about them."
Horrigan got their attention by breaking bricks with his elbow, kicking through baseball bats with his shins and cracking open coconuts with his bloodied bare fist.
"This is Carson High," he said. "This is my home town. This is where I put my heart."
Between 10-minute talking sessions with a crowd of mostly freshmen, Horrigan performed his martial arts feats, which he says keeps the students' attention.
Freshman Eddie Brundle was wowed when Horrigan split a 4 foot tall stack of bricks.
"I thought he was pretty neat," he said afterward. "It's a good trick."
Jaime Denton said her father is a fifth-degree black belt in Karate, "but I've never seen anything quite like this," she said.
Horrigan told the crowd of his time as a cocaine addict and dealer and how his lifestyle put him in prison, damaged his body and almost killed him.
"This is where I was shot with a .357 Magnum," Horrigan told the crowd, revealing a large scar. "I lost almost half my chest."
Horrigan, whose speaking events are sponsored by Carson-Tahoe Harley-Davidson, said he would like to take his message around the country.
"The success rate I've had is incredible," he said. "I'm able to raise money for charities and help people all over. That's all I care about."