Freeway Ricky Ross Comes to San Diego

You either love him or hate him. But one thing is clear you will respect him. Ricky Ross is a mixture of glory and tragedy. The tragedy is not the sum of his story, but how his glory was obtained. When you are absorbed in the drama of his life, one would think how tragic this man’s journey was, but that isn’t the case with Ricky.

Mr. Ross is a success story in every sense of the word. Success in terms of many mistakes made, but the lessons were learned.

Ricky Ross comes to San Diego on March 3rd, at 5 PM for the Black Founders in Cannabis Panel, and a treat it will be. If you don’t know the man, here is one man’s account and encounter with Mr. Ross fresh out of prison.

An excerpt is taken from Texas Monthly by Jesse Katz

The Life of Freeway Ricky Ross

It was 1994, and I had just met Ricky Donnell Ross, better known by his quintessentially Southern California moniker: Freeway. The day before, L.A.’s most mythic dopeman had walked out of the Smith County jail, free on parole. Now we were sitting together in the back of a black Cadillac, knees, and elbows occasionally knocking, while his brother drove us around the tiny farm and lumber communities between Tyler and Kilgore—the town where Rick was born into a family of sharecroppers and servants 34 years before.

It was his homecoming. It was my first trip to Texas. I was, then, the gang reporter for the Los Angeles Times, working on a series about the ravages of crack. Rick, whom I had known by reputation, was one of the main characters—a tireless entrepreneur who, for the better part of a decade, had literally put ton after ton of cocaine on the streets of America. He slashed prices, gave the stuff away, and even fed it to one of the mothers of his own children. No other drug dealer of his generation was considered more prolific: elusive, cunning, ambitious, shrewd, and a multimillionaire by the time he was 25.

Yet as toxic as Rick’s enterprise was, there was also something transcendent about it—a stepping-stone to the power and wealth that his Bible-trusting parents never believed they could or should attain. Here was a product of the Piney Woods, born under the reign of Jim Crow, transported to Watts on the eve of the 1965 riots, herded through an urban school system that failed to teach him to read, who then refused, in the most defiant way possible, to accept his station in life.

In a few short years, he went from illiterate dropout to CEO of his own coast-to-coast conglomerate, turning a $250 investment into a $1-million-a-week empire that would have made Horatio Alger proud had it involved widgets instead of cocaine. Freeway Rick was a living testament to the drug trade’s economic logic. Less an immoral thug than an amoral capitalist, he was intent on seizing his share of the dream, by any means necessary. Instead, he got busted in 1989, losing five years of his freedom and—he insists—practically all of his ill-gotten gains.

As the road weaved between towering coastal bluffs and the vast Pacific sea, I considered how Rick, for all his vision and moxie, really was a product of his environment, how he had not traveled so far from the fatalism of that vacant yellow shack on FM 346. Yes, our legal system is predicated on the notion that we all have free will, and that everything comes down to a choice. But those choices are never made in a vacuum. They are not scientific equations. They cannot escape the histories—of a family, of a people, of a place—that shape every one of our lives, histories of which we are not always even conscious. It is quite a feat to master those forces, to carve our own destiny, to transcend all the demons of our past. If we could, would that be true power? Or would that be the greatest self-delusion of all?

“Right now,” Rick announced when he saw me, “I might be more freer than I ever was.”

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