5/23/10

A Gun in the First Act Always Goes Off in the Third

The youth football played in South Central Los Angeles wasn’t just a game. It was a matter of survival, a refuge keeping the kids off the streets and out of the gangs for at least one day a week. And if a kid was lucky, it was a way out.

It had been for Kermit. Growing up in Watts in the 50’s, he’d found on the gridiron a release for his anger. He was allowed to run and hit and tackle at will. And he did it like no one else. But at the age of twelve he let his short-temper surface during a game and his father made sure to end it right there. Coming out of the stands he yanked Kermit off the field. “You’re embarrassing me... Sit down until you can control yourself!”

Kermit behaved after that; well enough to escape South Central through a scholarship to UCLA. Ten successful years in the pros followed.

---

He often returned to the stage of his youth, going to football games around the city. On September 21, 1974, one particular game jogged his memory clearly. As Kermit watched from the stands, an eight-year-old boy, the most obviously-talented boy on the field, was letting all of his rage go, just as Kermit had done years before. As the boy was dragged kicking off the field, Kermit thought of himself and said “somebody needs to help that boy.” But Kermit wasn’t that “somebody.”

---

Kermit recognized the defendant at last when the trial began.

“Oh my God...”

It was Tiequon Cox, the eight-year-old footballer from a decade earlier whom Kermit thought someone needed to help. Now it was too late. And it was too late to help Kermit Alexander’s mother, sister, and nephews too; victims of the gangland murder-for-hire gone wrong.

3 comments:

cyurkanin said...

Kermit Alexander's story doesn't end in the third act either. I really recommend taking the ten minutes to read his incredible agonizing journey and his unexpected redemption through the link to his name.

Karinann said...

Christopher,
What an amazing story of redemption and healing. Also how the right people in your life can make all the difference- Kermit's life could have very well gone the way of Mr. Cox's save for Kermit's mom.
See some good does come from the 49'ers (Yes I'm a fan- no jokes :)
I think this is my favorite of your 300 words so far!

cyurkanin said...

I remember watching "Brian's Song" at a school assembly in fourth grade. I think I was the only one to pay attention (for most of it anyway). Kermit Alexander wasn't portrayed very well, maybe deservedly so. And then after the murders, he just kind of disappeared. I was glad when I heard the full story on the radio the other day, one of my favorites now too.