In 1985, at 11 years of age I was “courted” into the neighborhood gang in South Central L.A. I wanted to be someone people respected, that the girls liked and I didn’t get picked on.
See, I was smart and extremely witty but the girls I knew didn’t like funny guys unless your name was Eddie Murphy or Redd Foxx. And all the smart dudes I knew got their lunch cards snatched from them, pushed down or the beat up everyday.
Gangs had been around for as long as I could remember my older brother was a gang member, my favorite boy cousin Jimmy was a gang member, my favorite auntie even claimed a hood and I don’t recall nobody ever picking on them. And women loved my brother so when we moved from Placer to 39th and Jefferson I knew what I wanted to be.
The dudes I ended up looking up to; Sharky, Crazy Keith, Li’l Cee Loc, Pee Wee, Sherlock, Ray Mac, Huckabuck, the homegirls Step Dogg and Cynthia, all seem to garner the respect and infamy that I craved and desired so bad for myself.
I still got chased home and occasionally got jumped because my neighborhood was in between 2 rival neighborhoods the Fruit Town Brim dudes and the NHB’s. But at the end of the day I was happy because people knew my name and that I was from Denker Park and that meant more than any ass kicking that I received either by my foes or my dad.
At 13, I was shot on 50 something & San Pedro over there close to Fremont High. It eventually caused my parents to have a discussion to send me to Cleveland with my mother. I didn’t object because the people I met there during summer breaks loved me and I didn’t get beat up as much for the color sweat shirt I wore or over what park I represented.
But in 1987, no one was really familiar with what a Crip or Blood was so it wasn’t long before I returned back to my life or role as a outsider. I eventually did what came natural to me and got in some trouble that caused me to do 12 months at Glen Mills School for Boys in Pa.
I must’ve listened to entirely way too much N.W.A. & tried to imulate a situation I had either heard one of my homies had done or some shit I heard MC Ren or Ice Cube rapping about & carjacked a undercover police lady.
By the time I came home I was no longer Li’l skinny ass Chappy Capone, with the big lips & big bright pink gums or Maurice from Cali, I had become the gun toting, mean mugging, PCP & weed smoking, 8 Ball malt liquor drinking Li’L Capone simple and plain, with the bad and ultra violent attitude & a juvie record.
The lil girls in my Down The Way neighborhood seemed to finally like me now and the dudes that I knew seemed to all respect me. But less than 3 weeks home on Valentine’s Day of 1992 I committed a crime that changed my life & the lives of so many others forever.
I committed or at least I participated in the conspiracy to commit a murder, I guess trying to be like John Gotti & eradicate my former associate’s leadership like he had done with his boss’ Paul Castellano.
But I chose Valentine’s like my namesake Capone, I’m a self proclaimed Mafia history guru. And destroyed my young life at 17, another human being’s as well as his family & my own in my quest for respect, power & above all other things love.
Prison life is so much more different & complex than life on the streets. Inside these wals there is no drive-bys, there is no hiding across town when trouble gets to deep. In here you are either predator or you are prey. By the time I walked into my very first prison I had already made my mind up that I was going to be a predator & not prey of any kind.
So at 19, I began to kick people’s boxes, I got into more fights than I can count, I got involved in inappropriate relationships with staff, gambling, you name it if it was against the rules I promise you I done it. The only thing I objected to partaking in was having sex with another dude.
I done the criminal shit for 18 or 19 years. I eventually decided that I wanted more out of my life, I believe that I coud be a much more productive individual if given the chance.
So I enrolled into college, found out that I actually like school. I taught myself another language. And what I found out is that I am still capable of generating respect, being witty still, it’s no shame in being talented or smart.
I can draw, I like comic books, I can rap & write poetry. I like shit like the Walking Dead, I cry every time I watch Lion King or the NoteBook. And I love watching WWE, so what!
And as far as my past life with the gang shit goes. I quit that destructive behavior. There is life after gangbanging, it’s not necessarily blood in & blood out as they like to say it is. Trust me!
You have to want to change though. And that’s my mission, I want to help troubled teens in gangs realize there is something much more valuable to live for & represent. Or you can end up like me, freedom snatched, in prison for decades & representing nothing but a number & a P.O. Box.. Which sucks!!
Maurice Robinson #274715
P.O. Box 8107
Categories: Maurice Robinson