Hood To Hollywood-Celebs Who Rose Above Gang Life
In neighborhoods across the world, young people are too often drawn to the allure of gang life. Some gang members cite the need for a family as the initial attraction to the dangerous lifestyle. Other gang bangers provide explanations such as protection, financial gain, or being born into the culture as the sources of their underworld ambitions. Whatever the reason a youth joins a gang for, in today’s world of high powered weapons and deadly drug trades… it’s a bad choice that usually turns out tragic.
They Over Came The Life
When we see our favorite celebrities, the glamour and glitz often blind us to the struggle and grind that lurks behind. Some of our most honored entertainers have risen from the rough concrete streets, to the highest heights of their industries. The following well known figures prove that with hard work, dedication, and the conversion of street smarts into business acumen, Hollywood sure beats the hood.
From a Gang to a Gang of Fame
Barry White is a legendary crooner who is known for the bass in his voice and his perfectly orchestrated R&B smash hits. Before he would help define the sound of 1970’s soul, he was growing up in the rough streets of South Central L.A. He joined the Businessmen, a gang that operated in South Central at the time. They committed various crimes and fought their rivals the Slausons. At age 16 he stole $30,000 worth of tires from a Cadillac lot and was handed seven months in prison. That same year, his brother Darryl lost his life to a rival gang. When Barry was released, he left the life and promised to focus on music. The choice would eventually make him a household name.
Eric “Eazy E” Wright was the first Gangsta Rapper to bring the streets to mainstream America. He founded the Rap group N.W.A. and his Ruthless records imprint would sell millions of records, while popularizing a sub genre of Hip Hop. At the height of his success, Ruthless records was checking in millions of dollars per month. Artists like N.W.A. and Bone Thugs N Harmony were topping the pop charts. Before Eazy E would take the careers of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Will.i.a.m. to the next level, he was a member of the Kelly Park Compton Crips.
The Kelly Park Compton Crips’ territory stretches from Muriel Avenue in the west to Stoneacre Avenue in the east, Alondra Blvd. to the north, back down to Greenleaf Blvd. Eric would take the funds he amassed from the illicit drug trade during the 80’s crack epidemic and organize “The World’s Most Dangerous Rap Group.” Decades later, Hollywood would immortalize his legacy with the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.
Gianni Russo was born in the Little Italy section of Manhattan in New York City. After his role as Rizzi in The Godfather 1, and 2 he went on to act in more than 46 movies.
Russo started as an errand boy for Mafia legend Frank Costello. He would later own a Las Vegas restaurant, defeat 23 federal indictments, as well as murder an associate of Pablo Escobar in self defense (after an incident in his casino). Escobar in turn captured Gianni Russo, with plans to murder him. This is until he realized Gianni starred in his favorite film The Godfather. At that point the world’s most wanted drug trafficker released the mob associate turned actor. Gianni Russo remains an accomplished entertainer who enjoys his freedom, and spoils of success.
When Snoop Dogg burst on the scene as the feature on Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover,” most in the Hip Hop world knew there was a new force to be reckoned with. By the time “Nothing But a G Thang,” “Dre Day” and “Let Me Ride” hit, Snoop Dogg was positioned to have the biggest debut album for any rapper up to that point.
His new found success became marred with a murder charge (which he beat) and his departure from Death Row records. He would go on to sign with No Limit Records, continue making hit songs and eventually re-brand himself as a world wide Pop culture icon.
Snoop Dogg is arguably the most recognized rapper on the third rock from the Sun with ventures that vary from Rap, Gospel, all the way to cooking shows with Martha Stewart.
Before the rapper born Calvin Broadus was hosting game shows and making hits, he was a member of the East Side Rollin 20’s Long Beach Crips. The gang claimed 15th Street, 21st Street, and 19th Street. Snoop would go on to work with Rapper Tray Dee and form the EastSidaz, despite his affiliation with the rival Insane Crips gang.
Snoop Dogg evolved into one of Hip Hop culture’s most talented artists and profitable business men. He mentors youth through sports, and encourages kids to steer away from the gang life.
You Don’t Want To Join A Gang
The gang life can be alluring to youth looking for acceptance. The camaraderie, violence, drugs, money and street fame can quickly become addictive. The short term “flash and cash” more often than not leads to a life behind bars, or no life at all.
A cemetery plot, and a lot of sad friends are common occurrences for members of gangs. The aforementioned gang members turned super stars i’m sure would personally tell you something like; develop your craft, go after your dream, but most of all…keep it legit