I know that 7 years ago, he was a respectful young man who loved baseball, but this was before he was caught up trying to be something he is not, something he may have seen on tv or a music video.
Seeing him later in his teen years, I noticed that he was the same kid inside, once you look past the facade of a "thug wanna-be" his shell portrayed. I remember thinking "is this kid realizing how ridiculously out-of-place he looks?" Who is he trying to fool? I took a picture with him, a team picture for a tournament that he played in, and he insisted to wear these baggy pajama pants over his baseball pants, which were hanging half way off his butt like the thugz like to wear their stuff. Hat tilted to the side, while everyone else, with the exception of one kid, who he brought with him to the tournament, wore the traditional baseball uniform that they played in. I could only imagine how much worst it got when he went into high school. Why this strong young man fell to the pressures of peer influence, I will never ever understand! Maybe because his older brother wasn't around? Maybe because he could no longer do what he loved to do on the baseball diamond? Maybe because now he was faced with going out and living in the real world?
As I remember, he was a product of a split family. His mom lived down south, and his dad in Antioch. He was a very good baseball player that was invited by other teams to play for them. He would always tell me that "mines was his main team, and all the others he played for were just part-time." I remember laughing when he said that, and him looking at me in my eyes and saying "no coach, I'm serious!"
I think the problem was this. He spent so much of his life on the baseball field, where things came easy to him, where others told him how much talent he had and how far he would go, that after all that didn't work out for what ever reason, he probably felt that the only thing that he could fall back on was that thug-persona. It hurts me to think that he was on meds, apparently in an attempt to fix himself. I know he had some injuries that were pretty serious during his baseball days.
Remembering the kid that always took the time after every tournament to come up to me and thank me for letting him play, even in a state championship game that I lost my cool and screamed at him on the field for a mental error that he made at a crucial time. My prayers go out to Al, his mom, and the people that care about him.
B, you are in my prayers!