Isaiah Washington has kept his troubled past hidden ? until now. The Grey's Anatomy actor opens up about his own surprising brush with violence on the Sept. 21 Judge Hatchett in order to prove to one teen it's possible to go from street kid to superstar.

"There was a time I didn't think I'd live to see 25," Washington reveals to TV Guide. Judge Glenda Hatchett (who frequently uses her show as a venue to save at-risk youth) and Washington staged an intervention to turn around the life of Hakeem White, a 16-year-old North Carolinian with a record of crime that already includes gun possession, selling drugs and slashing his own brother with a knife. Washington told White something he had never told anyone other than his wife: "I was young and dumb.... And one day I popped off my mouth to the wrong person and got shot." (He still has the bullet hole in his right hip.)

Why did Washington risk his reputation to teach a lesson to a young man he had never met? "[Hakeem] needed to see that we all have a choice in this world, that we can all change our destiny."

For the entire story on Isaiah Washington and Hakeem White, pick up the Sept. 18 issue of TV Guide.

Additional reporting by Michael Logan