Greg Young still remembers when he hit rock bottom. He was 29 and had just gotten arrested for the fifteenth time. He grew up in a dysfunctional family, battled substance abuse, and was homeless on and off while hustling on the streets. “I was reckless,” says Young, now 37. “I didn’t have a care for life. I had no other choice but to create more havoc.”
After almost totaling a car, Young returned home and says his stepson gave him the wake-up call he needed. “That night I saw all the fear in my child,” he recalls. “I started to understand who I was as a person and understand life on life’s terms. I got clarity. I started to love myself.”
Young is now nine years sober and has found a new passion: being a barber. He opened Noblemen’s Cut and Shave in 2016, alongside his business partner, Kevin Grande. At his downtown Fort Lauderdale space, Young can learn from those who sit in his chair, gaining knowledge from football stars Dan Marino, Ryan Tannehill, and Tua Tagovailoa, among others.
Determined to become a “difference-maker,” Young started providing free haircuts to homeless people. He’d also supply them with a backpack of hygiene products, water, and snacks, thus earning the nickname “the Backpack Barber.”
It caught on, and in 2017 he founded the Backpack Barber Foundation. On Wednesdays, he heads to city hall’s Community Court downtown to cut hair for the homeless, and on Mondays he assists the Jack & Jill Center by cutting kids’ hair. He also does outreach with HANDY and the Broward Partnership. Most recently he launched a men’s grooming line called Noble by Greg Young, with a percentage of profits benefiting his foundation.
“I want to be a philanthropist full-time,” says Young. “I want to travel, open chapters [of my foundation], and work with other individuals who are experiencing what I experienced.”