Gangsta Gift

I’d been shooting Half for a couple of weeks when I first met Blood Sport. We were shooting in a radio station in Crown Heights with DJ Extra Strength, when this guy walked in and my heart jump with confusion and fear. He was in his early twenties, medium brown, wearing a waist length black mink coat, tight black leather pants, with red beads swinging well below his crotch and a black scull cap which highlighted the four inch scar that ran from his eye to just above his jaw line. I asked Spank, Half’s security, who the hell that guy was, and when he responded Blood Sport. I said, Well, if his name is Blood Sport, my name is Chicken Shit. And I meant it. I thought if he had a name like Blood Sport that meant he liked to kill people. Little did I know that in the world of Ebonics and the Hip Hop vernacular, almost every expression has it’s origin in popular culture and in Sport’s case, he’d taken the name from the Claude Van Damme martial arts movie, Bloodsport. That was a huge relief to me, but none-the-less I withheld judgment regarding if he’d ever killed anyone.

I was also puzzled at that first meeting by how a thug could get away with the kind of outfit he was wearing, it was not only expensive-thus stealable, there was also this kind of girlie-man feeling to everything, between the mink coat and the beads. Personally, I found him attractive and scary. And then we talked and I realized he was actually very sweet and crazy flirtatious. Thankfully by this point, I was smart enough to assume he was far more complicated then he felt in those early days. And of course as time passed, I learned a great deal more about him. Sport had been jailed many times, usually for theft, drugs or gang related activities. And the red beads that he wore so proudly were actually a symbol of power.

Sport is an Original Gangster in the Brooklyn Bloods. He’s one of the people who started the Crown Heights Chapter of the Brooklyn Bloods and because Half was affiliated, but not a member, Half had the benefit of protection from a lot of these guys. I’d never know an OG so it was hard to separate Sport from that title. And the Sport I knew, I grew to love. He was the only guy who was publicly madly in love with one woman (not that he was faithful mind you). Sport called them Bonnie and Clyde. He was also the most emotionally vulnerable, at least to me, and that really touched my heart. I constantly saw his soft side, and I trusted him to tell me the best truth he could in any given circumstance. When I asked him about being an OG, he told me that he’d started the chapter not long after his mom was raped, murdered, and then thrown off the roof of a building in his neighborhood. That story was corroborated many times over.

For me it was heartbreaking to hear, but I also knew that it made a kind of perfect sense. Lose your family. Make a family. That’s how most of us create our delusions of safety. I don’t think Sport has ever been safe, particularly because of where he grew up, and like all of his homies, he’d experienced endless tragedies, losses and traumas. And then, as well as now, I believe that fabulous vulnerability that he was so willing to share with me, was an enormous gangsta gift.

Check out a PSA I produced with Rose Viggiano, with Sport as the star.

Read I’m a Greezie

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