(Todd A. Smith)

The predicament Ja Morant finds himself in with an indefinite suspension from Memphis Grizzlies for flashing a gun in a night club while on Instagram Live is something that is consistently plaguing some from the Black community.

That predicament is a glorification of the gangster and criminal lifestyle instead of the so-called square life, which would include “lame” things like making legal money, living to an old age and living in a palatial estate for the rest of one’s days and not the penitentiary.

Ramona Shelbourne and Liz Merrill of ESPN reported, “Police in Colorado said Monday they are investigating Ja Morant’s actions from the weekend after the Memphis Grizzlies star posted an Instagram Live video in which he displayed what appeared to be a gun while at a nightclub.

“The Glendale Police Department confirmed the incident took place at a bar in Glendale, a small enclave surrounded by Denver known for its strip clubs and shopping centers. The department said it is investigating whether Morant might have broken any gun laws.”

Since that report on Monday, it has been learned that Morant will not face charges for his alleged actions in the Colorado nightclub.

However, ESPN added, “NBA rules prohibit a player from possessing a firearm while on team property or traveling on a team bus. In the video livestreamed by Morant, it is not clear whether he was intoxicated, but others are shown drinking.”

Reportedly, the NBA could conceivably suspend Morant for a significant amount of games for violating the league’s gun policies.

Morant has allegedly been implicated in at least two other incidents possibly involving a gun.

One incident occurred when he allegedly brandished a gun after a diagreement with a teenager.

The other centers around allegations that someone from Morant’s entourage pointed a laser, allegedly from a firearm, at an Indiana Pacers traveling party after an altercation.

While none of the allegations have been adjudicated in a court of law, people often say where there is smoke, there is fire.

And it seems Morant has a penchant for that gunfire.

But his alleged bad decisions, are a systemic problem in the African-American community that needs correction, quickly.

However, it seems that the African-American community is not getting much help for this epidemic from the powers that be in the media and Hollywood.

From Hollywood television shows and movies to YouTube podcasts, it seems that every show that caters to the African-American audience centers on selling drugs, not snitching, RICO cases and gang affiliation.

Back in the day, the only people who lived a street or thug life did so out of necessity.

Many found no way out of an impoverished background.

Therefore, the criminal lifestyle allowed them a quick way to change their financial predicament and that of their relatives.

Even with that, many did not want their younger family members following in their footsteps.

And the first chance they got to leave the street life behind for a legitimate life, they did so.

Additionally, many people were born into the gangster way of life because of where their families lived.

People who grew up in Blood or Crip neighborhoods really had little choice but to be affiliated with a gang to some degree.

With that said, when gang members back in the day saw that a person had athletic, academic or artistic talent, they often refused to let that talented person live a street life.

Although rapper/actor Tupac Shakur came from a poverty-stricken background, many drug dealers would not let him sell dope.

Instead, drug dealers would sponsor him by taking some of their street money and buying studio time for the burgeoning rapper.

Nevertheless, when Shakur escaped his dire childhood, he hustled backwards by getting involved with street politics even when he was a successful Hollywood juggernaut.

At a time when Shakur should have distanced himself from negative influences that could thwart his career, he instead chose to affiliate with Blood street gang members that worked for Death Row Records and its former CEO, Suge Knight.

That gang affiliation, which should have been beneath Shakur, led to his death when he got into a fight with rival gang members after a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas in 1996.

Morant was not around when Shakur died tragically on the Las Vegas Strip.

But his father Tee Morant, and other elders in his life, know the tragic tale of Shakur too well.

Morant’s elders know what happens when people hustle backwards, meaning once they make millions, they begin looking for street credibility.

Instead of impressing endorsers, they try to impress the thugs on the block who will never get off the block unless they are in a jump suit headed to prison.

In the meantime, the talented individual that should become a multi-millionaire or even a billionaire, as Morant wants to be, ends up in jail, dead or contemplating the bad choices that ruined their lives with heartbreaking regret.

Over 25 years later, hip-hop heads of a certain age still talk about what could have been if Shakur would have lived past Sept. 13, 1996.

How successful would his protégé artists been if he had gotten a chance to truly launch his record label, Makaveli Records?

Would he have kept improving as an actor?

After all, filmmaker John Singleton believed Shakur would have won an Oscar if he had gotten a chance to star in “Baby Boy, a role that eventually went to Tyrese Gibson.

Would he have gotten into politics?

After all, his family background was in community activism via the Black Panther Party.

Almost all of Shakur’s fans believe that he would have changed so many lives for the better.

But instead, all Shakur fans have our memories and old songs to reminisce about.

That should not end up being the reality for Morant.

He could change the fortunes of his family members and close friends for generations to come.

Twenty-five years from now we should not talk about Morant and wonder what he could have accomplished if he truly took advantage of his talents and blessings.

Therefore, if a lengthy suspension is needed to set him straight, so be it.

Many athletes had potential for greatness.

However, some like the late Len Bias ruined their future because of one crucial mistake.

Morant has allegedly made several mistakes recently.

Let’s just hope that he corrects those mistakes before it is too late for him and all those who love him.

Todd A. Smith
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