By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
By Dennis Romero
A week later, my phone rang and it was Sanyika Shakur. "Stu is pissin' me off left and right," he said. The movie negotiations had broken down; either Goldman had offered a loan or Shakur had requested one, but in either event no money had been forthcoming and the film deal was a dead letter. "I'm so depressed, I feel like going out and robbing something," Shakur told me.
Goldman groaned when I called him. "It was my fault really. I said to Kody, if we do this, you could write part of it. And he said to me, 'I'd want nothing more than to write with you. You could teachme.' I should have cut it off there." When Goldman called back to say he couldn't raise the funds for the film, he said, Shakur offered to sell him the movie rights "for an incredibly low amount -- fifteen hundred dollars," then asked for a loan of about the same amount; Goldman said he didn't do personal loans, and the conversation degenerated from there. "It's too bad. I was looking forward to having him pal around with me. I was going to wait a few days and have him take me to the hood."
As the week progressed, Shakur's mood continued to decline. He called me again to report the latest deal that had fallen through, the promise of a whole episode of Geraldo. The producers had finally decided that the gang thing was a bit old and canceled his appearance. Maybe it was just as well, Shakur said. "I mean, was this producer inviting me on because he admired me, or just so I could be attacked?" It was a familiar trap, and he said he didn't want to be known as a killer anymore. "What is that? To become a man you have to be a man killer? It's a negation of a negation. It's my whole psychosis of being a man."
Still, if this was the end of media recognition, even if it was just for being a man who killed men, what did he do now? "I keep thinking of robbery," he said for the second time that week. "I don't know, it's weird. It's like I've got the Stockholm syndrome." What did he mean? I asked. "I don't know, but it's like, in prison, at least the guards are paying attention, you know what I'm saying?"
A week later, Sanyika Shakur missed a required weekly drug test and so violated his parole. The violation came with a mandatory three-month sentence. Monster Kody was back in jail.
Some weeks into his reincarceration, I arrived for visitors' hours at the Los Angeles County Jail and ran into Felicia Morris in the waiting room, which wasn't surprising; she was a loyal and regular visitor. She had a pile of paperwork on her lap; she used the long wait to catch up on her job. Finally, the guards announced, "Rudy Scott!" Morris sighed at the mangling of his name. "The guards do that all the time," she told me. It was their way of letting the inmate's girlfriend, and the inmate, know that they weren't impressed by Monster Kody's notoriety. In a cubicle on the other side of the Plexiglas, Shakur was waiting. "What can I say?" he said to me, chagrined. "This is like my norm. This is where I get my writing done." He did have a question he was eager to ask me, though. "Did you see me on ESPN?" I hated to tell him I hadn't; I knew he'd be disappointed.
Afterward, Morris and I walked through the dank parking garage adjacent to the jail, its many potholes overflowing with oily water. We stood by our cars and she broke down in tears. "I just hate to see him in chains" was all she could choke out. At the other end of the lot, a scuffle erupted. We looked up to see police officers throwing a skinny young man against the hood of a car. He lay still as they searched him. Two of the young man's buddies stood skittishly at a distance, hands at their sides, powerless to help.
KERSHAUN SCOTT ABANDONED THE FIELD in a different way. He retreated first to an anonymous suburb and a classroom at California State University in Long Beach, where he got straight A's. But he still felt unnervingly exposed, and eventually he moved with his new wife, their daughter and his wife's two children from a previous relationship to the desert town of Ridgecrest, 150 miles away. He was looking to escape the grinding poverty of South-Central, the perpetual crisis of his brother, the appeals of his former gang friends to get back into the action, and the police who seemed to dog his steps. But he was also fleeing the media. "After Nightline, every day I was doing an interview," he told me as he drew the blinds against the merciless sun. Children's toys littered the floor, where his 2-year-old daughter sat twisting the legs off miniature action figures. A large photograph of Kershaun's old Eight-Tray Gangsters set, throwing gang signs, hung in the center of the living-room wall like an extended-family portrait. "After a while," he said of the media onslaught, "the pressure got to me. I just wanted to go somewhere and just be Kershaun, not be everyone's Li'l Monster."