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East Texas teen cuts barriers, helps his family as certified barber

Hundreds of clients have sat in Tony Medina's chair since he started cutting hair at 13.

TYLER, Texas — The barbershop is not the typical place you’d find a 15-year-old, at least not behind the chair.

“I always been the youngest at all the shops that I’ve been in," Tony Medina said. 

Starting when he was just 13, he’s given hundreds of haircuts since. He also plans to branch out to other things besides cutting hair, such as doing nails and eyelashes. 

He's gotten some pushback from people who don't think a boy should pick up those trades. 

"I just see it as an opportunity to make more money, to just get more clients because I feel like you don't really see guys doing nails," Medina said. 

A cut of the money he makes goes toward booth rent, the rest he gives to his mom to cover the bills. He’s carving a future for his four younger brothers.

“I know how it feels to not have some shoes when you're like in middle school or elementary. I used to get bullied for not having some type of clothes or some type of brand," Medina remembered. 

Tony inspired his dad Placido Medina to go to barber school. While he’s taking classes, his son covers his back with the bills.

"Honestly, sometimes it does break me down, like, 'ah, this is my responsibility - not to be on him, or my wife.' But then, I think about it the long run," Placido Medina said. 

Placido Medina is halfway done with school and plans to be certified by October. In three to five years, the father and son shop already named “903 Cutz” will be a reality.

Medina is hosting a back-to-school drive on Aug. 14 from noon to 3 p.m. at House of Fades Barbershop. There will be free school supplies, free food and free haircuts for kids before their first day back in the classroom.

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