No Payne, No Gain

DETROIT (WJBK) – A Detroit politician once told me that Detroiters were like crabs in a barrel; whenever one crab gets near the top of the barrel, the rest try to pull him down.

Even though he’s currently serving a 28-year stretch at the federal penitentiary in El Reno, OK, I still think his assessment has some merit. Take the case of Terry Payne.

Payne was a talented Detroit public high school basketball player who found his green thumb – and stayed out of trouble – by hanging out at the 4-H hall on McLellan, just off Gratiot on Detroit’s East Side. Payne has since built a successful landscaping company. When he heard the 4-H club was closing, he bought the building. And, for the past couple years, he’s been working to get it fixed up and reopened. Happy ending, right?

Not exactly. Payne, whose business is located in Detroit, has endured break-ins and thefts. But the latest caper was the cruelest. Thieves stole equipment and other items Payne was planning to auction off to help raise money to complete the conversion of the shuttered 4-H building in a recreation center where Payne will base his Brighter Detroit non-profit.

A setback like this would cause plenty of folks to throw up their hands and pack it in. Here at Chapter 10, it got us wondering how we can ever build a better Detroit if bad ol’ Detroit keeps making it so damn hard?!?

So we asked Payne what keeps him going; why he continues to give so much to a city where there are too many folks taking stuff they haven’t earned and don’t deserve? We went looking for deep answers and eloquent explanations for Payne’s remarkable resolve.

That’s not q-u-i-t-e what we got.

Instead, Payne shared some simple wisdom that may be w-a-a-a-y more useful when it comes to saving Detroit than some delicate discourse.

See and hear it all for yourself in the video player above on this edition of Chapter 10.

Oh, and if you get inspired and want to get involved, check out Payne’s charitable endeavors at or call 313-466-3787.

You can also watch every installment of Chapter 10 at or by clicking on the Chapter 10 tab on Fox 2’s app.

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Paid for by Michael Louis Elrick for Detroit