Brief, harrowing chronicle of the author’s time soldiering for the Bloods.
The book opens with a frenetic, imploring introduction by T. Rodgers, a West Coast O.G. so old-school he doesn’t even signify Blood or Crip, aligning instead with their precursors. Immediately following, Morris’s unusually affecting stream-of-consciousness prologue tosses readers right into the blood-spattered nightmare that was his traumatized life. Sent by his mother from New Jersey to Phoenix to live with strict Muslim relatives at a young age, Morris fell in with the gangbangers who thrived in his new neighborhood: “Out here on my own, I’m not safe. I don’t have much choice; I’m surrounded by gangs and all my friends are down with them.” The Bloods Morris ran with clearly relished the chance to play with their newest member, initiating him by driving to a Crip-run block and having him open fire on some rivals, then celebrating with weed and beer. He was ten years old. A move back to his mother’s house on the East Coast didn’t help much. By the time he was in high school Morris was a bona fide street soldier, warring not just with Crips but any clique or gang suspected of being a rival to his crew. He developed a schizoid split as he began to excel at football, eventually becoming team captain at the same time that he was running the streets. By the time a college scholarship and the possibility of an NFL future came his way, however, it seemed there was little that could disrupt the violent nightmare he was trapped in. Morris wasn’t remorseful when he finally went to jail (a surprisingly lenient six-month term), but that was where he decided to “choose a better LIFE.”
Despite the subtitle, those looking for an uplifting tale of redemption will not find much succor in this honest account, which doesn’t romanticize either gang life or its law-abiding alternative.