PACE, FL 32571


Trouble in Paradise:

Drug use and gangs effecting high school sports

By: Logan Bowers

     Paysinger grew up in economically depressed South Los Angeles, an area well known for gangs such as “the 18th street gang”, “Bloods”, “Crips” and even several neo-Nazi affiliated groups. But according to the Omaha World Herald he attended Beverly Hills High School, where he captained the football team in the wealthy enclave. The culture shock he experienced is the basis for a lot of what makes America so colorful in a way.

     “Just dealing with kids with affluence, kids with drug problems and having their parents not be there for weeks on end because they’re vacationing or they’re doing big business. Just dealing with that contrast was probably the biggest thing that I had to go through.” Paysinger was lucky to have family that was even there half the time and cared for him, and most importantly he was lucky that he had an aunt and uncle working at BHHS that helped get him to and from school safely, while gang wars made the streets unsafe for someone to even walk to school.

     It's no real surprise to anyone that people in sports may have had some history with gangs. I mean with how big of a thing hazing was, and in some places still is, it's pretty easy to guess that most people, one way or another, have someone close who is in a gang, and in cases where someone's family is in a gang, well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree does it?

     In other bad neighborhoods, poor kids grow up with talent and determination; they claw their way to the top and when they do, they often retain some of their ghetto baggage. Like sharks swimming in the ocean, they have the bleeding fish. Dependent family members and former friends cling to their meal ticket. When these hang-a-rounds include alcohol or drug abusers and gang homeboys, tragedy becomes inevitable.

     Like so many lucky lotto winners, the same fame and financial fortune that helps them escape the ghetto contributes to bringing them down. This is especially true for success stories with gang backgrounds. The entourage of these celebrity gangsters always includes their gangster friends.

     The latest version of this story began in Bristol, Conn., where young Aaron Hernandez excelled at football. After high school, he played at the University of Florida. The New England Patriots drafted him for the 2010 season and gave him a five-year contract last year worth $40 million.

“You can take a gangster out the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the gangster”

     After this, in late June, police arrested Hernandez at his Attleboro, Mass., home and charged him with first-degree murder and weapons violations relating to the killing of his friend Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player. Lloyd's body was found in an industrial park near the Hernandez home. The Patriots released the tight end less than two hours after his arrest.

     Hernandez is one of almost 30 NFL players arrested since this year's Feb. 3 Super Bowl, ESPN reported, citing a U-T San Diego database. Another 20 professional athletes have been charged with murder, homicide or manslaughter since 1967, O.J Simpson and Suge Knight we're not listed. Knight is best known as the president and CEO of Death Row Records, but his criminal career began when he was dropped from the Los Angeles Rams in 1987. He took up body guarding for rappers. Knight was also a member of Compton's Mob Peru Blood gang. Although never charged with murder, he was suspected of several killings including the murder of Brooklyn rapper The Notorious B.I.G.


This gang affiliation can work the other way around, when the player becomes the victim of gang violence. This happened in 2007 when Darrent Williams, a Denver Broncos cornerback, was shot in a drive-by on New Year's Day. Williams' killer rode in a vehicle registered to a Crip gang member.