The HGTV star revealed he was once arrested and charged with attempted murder after a gang fight in a PEOPLE exclusive excerpt of his new book 'Flip Your Life'
Tarek El Moussa's teenage years were even more brutal than he lets on in his new book.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, the HGTV star opens up about what didn't make the final edit of his new memoir-meets-self-help-guide, including a lot more unsavory face-offs while growing up in a tough neighborhood in Southern California.
In a PEOPLE exclusive excerpt from Flip Your Life: How to Find Opportunity in Distress—in Real Estate, Business, and Life (out Feb. 6), the Flipping El Moussas star, 42, reveals that at 17, he was involved in a massive brawl that got him arrested and charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, among other things.
In the fight, he faced off with men armed with bats and crow bars, he writes. He took a baseball bat to the ribs before managing to grab the weapon and hit the other guy in the head, knocking him unconscious. The police appeared just as a second wave of much older guys rolled up and, Tarek says, likely saved his life. He blacked out and woke up handcuffed in the back of a cruiser.
After a few days in "juvie," authorities determined he acted in self defense and he was released and put on house arrest.
The tale is no doubt shocking to fans who know El Moussa as a home improvement TV star, but he says the incident wasn't even the worst of what he got into as a young man.
"That one had the most extreme consequences for me, but that was not the most extreme," he tells PEOPLE of the fight. "I've been in shootings, I've been in knife fights, I've been hit in the face with a bat. You name it, I've had it."
He wrote about many more of these incidents in early drafts of the book, but they were edited out, he says: "There was more of them that they didn't put in the book . . . I feel like they probably just didn't want too much violence."
Still, he feels it was important to share what he did. "It's part of my story," he says. "We're all a product of our environment, and I grew up in that environment. In order to thrive in that environment, you have to do certain things."
He also expresses that being candid about where he started helps him show readers how far anyone can go with the right mindset. "You can literally be a gang banger right now, robbing people, and you can flip your life. Anybody can change. They just have to want to," he explains.
El Moussa isn't worried about how fans might react to the revelation — "I haven't even thought about that," he says — or about his three kids potentially learning of his past mistakes. (He shares daughter Taylor, 13, and son Brayden, 8 with his ex-wife Christina Hall, and son Tristan, 1, with his wife Heather Rae El Moussa.)
"In their lives, they're going to go through hard times and it's not always going to be rainbows and butterflies," he says. "When hard times come, you have to be prepared, you got to be ready to fight and you got to keep going."
For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on People.