Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Why is Denzel Campbell such a great L.E.A.D. Mentor?

Several weeks ago I posted a blog entitled "Your 3-Step Guide to being an Effective L.E.A.D. Mentor". I wrote the blog to help prospective mentors understand our mindset as an organization. Stewardship is one of our core values and we define it as a protection of beliefs as well as people.

Denzel Campbell is featured in this blog. He's a L.E.A.D. Ambassador alum, a graduate of the University of South Carolina-Beaufort and also an employee at Aerotek.

He's a great L.E.A.D. mentor because he is a present, he understands how to be present as well as a partner.

Being A Present

C.J.: What do you worry about?

Denzel: I worry about letting others down and not living up to expectations. I care a lot about the people close to me and I want to continue to impress them while inspiring them as well. Always a topic of my mind for me.

C.J.: What do you cry about?

Denzel: My family, life’s hurdles, and my relationship with my girlfriend Courtney. It takes a lot out of me sometimes knowing I’m away and not able to see my family every day. Life’s hurdles can just come from left and right and I have to rely on my own decisions and the help of my girlfriend to figure things out at times. I know I have others to rely on for sure but when you’re young it seems like it’s you vs the world.

C.J.: What do you dream about?

Denzel: I dream about that big house on a lot of land and having enough money to take care of my family. I want to help them out in reasonable ways and also experience life’s luxuries and places I’ve never traveled. This world is so amazing and baseball allowed me to take it all in on and off the field.

C.J.: Why does God have you on earth?

Denzel: My purpose is to impact others in positive ways and spread the word through Christ. My attitude, where I come from, and the tone in my voice has given others motivation to strive for greatness. Regardless of what obstacles are in front of you, no matter your name, color, or sports preference, it’s possible to create success if giving an opportunity while believing in yourself. With faith, strong work ethic and through god I’m able to pass this message along to others.

C.J.: What world problem do you want to solve?

Denzel: Social inclusion. Our community efforts and day to day actions must correlate in a positive manner that benefits not only yourself but those involved as well. Regardless of differences, it takes everyone working together to get beyond those hurdles. It’s the only way everyone can prosper and we as a country can get to a better place. It takes time for sure but we must chip away.

C.J.: What is your calling in life from God?

Denzel: To service my community wherever I am and help place great people in the careers that will reward their long term goals. L.E.A.D. taught me life lessons, instilled a game plan in me, and gave me the keys to opportunities I thought would never exist. Baseball just made everything better. From there I obtained a job with Aerotek which allows me to help others in their careers like those who helped me from the beginning. The path God has given me continues to include heart and giving.

Being Present

C.J.: Where do you research your favorite articles and/or blogs?

Denzel: I like the main local news outlets online or sports websites. Something that’s on my phone while I’m on the go. ESPN, Bleacher Report, WTOC, or Fox News apps mainly. On Facebook and Twitter I can follow my favorite people as well to keep up with the day to day activities and helpful ideas.

C.J.: Where do you research your favorite inspirational video content?

Denzel: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook. You can keep track of your favorite outlets on mobile devices and computers.

C.J.: What's your favorite quote?

Denzel: Jim Bouton “You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and it turns out it was the other way around all the time.”

C.J.: What are some creative and virtual ways that you can mentor boys without being in their physical presence?

Denzel: I like to use video messaging, texts, or conference calls to pass along any message possible. It’s an easy setup and a lot of people can be involved with a good game plan.

Left to right: C.J. Stewart, Desmond Stegall, and Denzel Campbell

Being A Partner

C.J.: How do you define humility?

Denzel: Enjoy the wins in life but always remember where it started and the hard work it takes to continue growth in whatever you are achieving.

C.J.: What is your spiritual gift?

Denzel: Giving (Romans)

C.J.: What is your earthly talent?

Denzel: Guiding people in their careers and daily life. Passing along what was given to me for someone else to experience.

C.J.: What's more important, to be perfect or intentional? 

Denzel: Intentional. I feel these are actions based on a thought or decision you have made. It’s what you believe in as well. Good or bad it can affect you in the long term and how you learn from it could affect others as well.

C.J.: What do you have to give?

Denzel: My time and experiences from day one throughout my life. Money is one thing but being able to resonate with those same shoes you once filled means a lot more. C.J.: Why should a mentor follow you?

Denzel: I try to be myself and trust in the things I believe in and what makes me happy. I know working hard and giving back will lead to better things for those involved. I‘ve made mistakes as well but none I regret because I understand more about myself and life today. Give that message to someone else and being a friend can spread good vibes.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

At 30,000 Feet

Today was a special day for L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). We presented L.E.A.D. to Major League Baseball Players Association at their headquarters in New York.

L.E.A.D. Ambassador Vernard Kennedy (V.K.) is a senior at New Schools at Carver (Atlanta Public Schools) and he joined Kelli Stewart (L.E.A.D.'s Executive Director) and I today as the closer. It was his first flight and here is his reflection from today.

30,000 Feet - Establishing the Vision and Making Decisions

In The Clouds - Place of Protection of the Vision and Provision

On The Ground - Place of Growth and Harvest

Vernard's 30,000 foot aerial view

Why were you chosen to present to Major League Baseball Players Association along with Coach Kelli and Coach C.J.?

V.K.: I feel that I was chosen because I am an example of the process of becoming a L.E.A.D. Ambassador. I represent the future leadership of L.E.A.D. I have been in the organization since the 6th grade at Sylvan Hills Middle School (Atlanta Public Schools). I am also great at representing the organization and telling others about the organization.

How did it feel mentally to cruise on a plane at 30,000 feet?

V.K.: I was nervous at first but as the ride went along, I felt stable and safe.

How did it feel physically to cruise on a plane at 30,000 feet?

V.K.: At first it felt like I was on a roller coaster. The feeling was exciting and scary at the same time.

How did you view the world from 30,000 feet?

V.K.: I tried to compare it to Georgia and I realized that there are more places that I can travel outside of Atlanta.

What surprised you the most during the presentation to Major League Baseball Players Association?

V.K.: What surprised me in the meeting was the collective power that the people amongst me had.

How has your Atlanta Public Schools (APS) educational experience prepared you for the presentation to Major League Baseball Players Association?

V.K.: APS has prepared me by giving me opportunities to tell my life story. I am comfortable with telling my life story and proud to share it with new people without feeling ashamed.

How has your L.E.A.D. experience prepared you for the presentation to Major League Baseball Players Association?

V.K.: L.E.A.D. prepared me to also tell my story without being ashamed. L.E.A.D. has also prepared me because it gave me the context to speak with clarity in the meeting.

What world problem do you want to solve?

V.K.: I want to solve poverty in the inner cities throughout America because there is a lot of unnoticed talent in inner cities. As an inner city Atlanta teenage Black male, I feel that I get overlooked because of negative bias against me because of my skin color.

What college do you plan to attend fall 2017?

V.K.: I plan to attend Kennesaw State University. However, if I get the Posse Scholarship, I will be attending Texas A&M.

What major do you plan to pursue in college?

V.K.: I want to study business and marketing.

How has your experience at MLB in New York prepared you to lead in Atlanta for the remainder of 2016?

V.K.: The experience taught me to continue to focus on being successful and significant. Success is based on what you get and significance is based on what you give. Meeting with Mr. Dave Winfield was amazing. He reminded me that there is always someone watching you. He said that it may not be now or two years from now but that I will be rewarded for my commitment to excellence.

Mr. Dave Winfield and Vernard Kennedy

With respect to the leadership within L.E.A.D. using Coach C.J. (CEO), Coach Kelli (Executive Director), Coach Kevin Young (Program Director) and you (L.E.A.D. Ambassador), who's positioned at 30,000 Feet, In The Clouds and On The Ground and why?

V.K.: Coach C.J. serves at 30,000 feet because he has the most responsibility. Coach Kelli is in the clouds because her responsibilities allow her to pass her influence down unto the ground level. Coach Young is on the ground because he is actually involved with all of the student-athletes of L.E.A.D. the most. I have a lot of respect for Coach Young.

What do you need to do to get 30,000 Feet for L.E.A.D.?

V.K.: I need to have results to show that I'm are the right person for high level situations. I'm well on my way. Last year, was selected for the the 21st Century Leaders (21CL) 20 under 20. Now I have the power to nominate a L.E.A.D. Ambassador for the 2017 21CL 20u20. I have more power than Coach C.J. in this situation because I have received the award and he hasn't.

Omar Minaya, Kevin McGuinness, Vernard Kennedy, C.J. Stewart, Kelli Stewart, Jeffrey Hammonds, and Dave Winfield


Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Dividends of Poverty

There is a narrative that’s touted in the media and other propaganda on the daily that black boys living in America’s inner-city’s are violent and stupid. Here in Atlanta, we even have the data to support this narrative:

· Many of our inner-city neighborhoods have been rated the most dangerous of America’s inner-cities,

· Youth from three Atlanta zip codes – 30310, 30315, 30318 – grow up to comprise 80% of Georgia’s prison population.

· Black boys in Atlanta have about a 40% chance of graduating at all or on time.

When I hear this narrative – it pisses me off because the naysayers are also talking about me.

Although I partner with Atlanta Public Schools (APS) through my non-profit organization L.E.A.D., Inc. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct) and through my Rotary Club of Atlanta West End, this isn’t my first encounter with APS. My very first time inside of an APS school was as a seed in my mother’s womb. She started off at Doug, but when she got pregnant with me, she had to go to night school at Washington to finish her education. I was born at Grady Hospital and during my early years we lived in Hollywood Brooks. She also received some educational and career support from The Job Corps, right on Westlake Avenue. Ironically, when I was a little boy in the day care there, I had no idea that one of the ladies who I saw everyday was the aunt of my wife who I wouldn’t meet until some 15 years or so later.

I say all this to tell you, my Brothers, that I am you. I was on food stamps, TANF, Medicaid and WIC; all of those daily tell-tale reminders that you were born at the bottom and you have absolutely no shot of making it out of the gutter. After all, one of the most alarming stats on poverty in Atlanta today is that only about 4% of children born into poverty will ever make it out, so my being born into a family on the poverty rung of life was surely a death sentence – or so it seemed.

C.J. Stewart speaking to Atlanta Public Schools students at Turner Field.
My purpose in sharing this message with you is to reveal the hidden treasures, the dividends, that poverty paid out to me.

GRIT = Strength of Character

Know: Grit is strength of character. It's not based on talent. It's about getting difficult things done even when you don't have the knowledge and resources to do it. Grit is about possessing passion and perseverance. Your passion is found in your suffering. Pinpoint what makes you made as hell and there is where you’ll find your life’s mission.

Feel: I want you to feel confident when approaching life challenges. You have grit because you are still standing despite your life's challenges. You are still standing in the face of things that would have already destroyed others folks. Remember, you are still standing.

Believe: The world has lots of problems and I need you to believe that you can solve them. You certainly can’t solve them all, but you can solve at least one. The world needs you because your grit allows you to get difficult things done and not quit when things get tough.

Do: I want you to be keenly aware of adversity, run to it and then conquer it like only you can.


Know: Discernment is the ability to judge well. Even if you weren’t born with it, growing up in poverty develops this gift in you like no other situation can. Knowing who to trust and who to leave alone can save your life and the lives of those around you. Discernment; it's a powerful weapon that you possess.

Feel: I want you to trust your gut. Discernment is one of those tricky gifts that sometimes doesn’t come with empirical evidence; sometimes it’s just a feeling you have in your gut. Learn to listen and trust this voice. In my life experience, I grew to find out that this feeling was the Holy Spirit speaking to me and guiding me before I was even thinking about being a follower of Christ.

Believe: I want you to believe that you can use your spiritual gift of discernment to navigate life's experience to make your life better and the lives of others better.

Do: Poor people are often taken advantage of because it's assumed that we don't know better and can't do better. I want you to protect the poor. You can do this; you must do this. As you progress in life and become financially secure, don’t forget the poor.


Know: Great men born in this great city of Atlanta have paved the way for you to become a living legend. We couldn’t chosen a better city in the world to be born in – especially when it comes to poverty. Immerse yourself in the rich history of black people in Atlanta and abroad – their legacies will fuel yours.

Feel: I want you to feel self confident in the fact that you can solve problems because men born in Atlanta and educated in Atlanta Public Schools such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Vernon Jordan, Mayor Maynard Jackson and Coach C.J. Stewart have solved and are solving problems.

Believe: I want you to believe that God has you on earth for this moment. You are a living legend and your legacy will live beyond you. Take care of it daily; use your grit and discernment to protect it.

Do: I want you to start living like you have the power to solve world problems. There are millions of people that will benefit from your contributions to the world that may never get the opportunity to say thank you to you. Do not believe what the world says about you. Make them believe differently. Write a new narrative.

A message to the young ladies: Please know that as I write this blog that I have you in my heart. As the father of the two beautiful little black girls, the leadership and mentoring work I do with black boys is so that my daughters know what a confident, strong and productive young man looks like. I need your prayers as I work with our young men, so they can be great community leaders, husbands and fathers for you.

Coach C.J. Stewart and three of Atlanta's most valuable assets. Photo by Audra Starr.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Your 3-Step Guide to being an Effective L.E.A.D. Mentor

Mentor: A trusted counselor or guide; Someone who teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.

My calling in life is to be significant through service to others in an effort to bring them to Christ and address racism. This is a tall order, and one I could not come close to meeting were it not for my mentors, Dr. Craig L. Oliver, senior pastor of Elizabeth Baptist Church and Dr. Tim Elmore, the founder of Growing Leaders.

When my wife Kelli and I founded L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct), we became mentors to a group of boys who desperately needed strong role models who would be there for them – even when they didn’t want us to be. As our program has grown, so too have the issues facing the young men we work with. We cannot do this alone and are constantly on the lookout for people who want to be a part of preparing our city’s next generation of leaders.

Do you have what it takes to be a L.E.A.D. mentor? Are you willing to be a present, be present, and be a partner?

Be a Present

It’s easy to avoid the hard things in life. Very few people need help with that. What we do need help with is going deep. When you care enough to ask the tough questions and then stay around to listen to the answers, you are showing a young person you care. I’ve found that in asking the following six questions, I am actually telling the Ambassadors that I love them:

1. What do you worry about?

2. What do you cry about?

3. What do you dream about?

4. Why does God have you on Earth?

5. What world problem do you want to solve?

6. What is your calling in life from God?

Now it’s your turn. Do you have answers for these questions? Can you say them in six words of less? Are you ready to ask our Ambassadors these questions and listen to their answers?

When you help a young man you are mentoring see himself in a new way, you are a present; a present that strips away entitlement and replaces it with empowerment. Out goes the complaining and in comes critical thinking. No need to blame, because now he believes.

Be Present

The number one response when you ask someone to be a mentor is that they don’t think they have enough time. Mentorship is a blessing and a burden. I rely on my mentors to help me do what God has called me to do. To be able to do that for an Ambassador, I must first help him discover what God is calling him to do and then make sure he keeps that front and center. This requires a mentor to be there not just physically, but spiritually.

Can you be there spiritually? If you start by answering the six questions yourself, you will discover your super powers and learn how to be there even when you can’t physically be there.

For Geri Cook, it was through the weekly prayer she texted to Ambassador Vernard Kennedy – prayers that he shared with the other L.E.A.D. Ambassadors on their group text. Those prayers have come every Wednesday since February – the last time she saw the Ambassadors in person. She is present in her faithfulness to God and to the Ambassadors, who have learned a great lesson through her.

How else can you be present? Each month, our Ambassadors focus on a specific core value. You can share an article or blog post, send a video message from you and others, or pass along a favorite quote that reinforces what they are reflecting on that month:

Excellence (August, February)
Humility (September, March)
Integrity (October, April)
Loyalty (November, May)
Stewardship (December, June)
Teamwork (January, July)

You can also literally be present. We have over 50 activities on our calendar and invite you to join us for any one of them. When you come, I believe you will be a fan of what you see, and that’s what Black boys living in poverty in crime-ridden inner city neighborhoods need. They need to see values in action, receive a little bit of help, and a whole lot of hope. That is what L.E.A.D. is all about.

Be a Partner

This is a tough one. This requires humility. L.E.A.D. defines humility as not thinking less of yourself while thinking of others more than yourself. As a child, I recognized the humble people. They were the ones who did something great, but were embarrassed to take credit for it.

When you partner with our Ambassadors, you will learn as much from them as they will learn from you. They will introduce you to a different Atlanta. They will invite you to become a part of a team that is working to make your Atlanta and their Atlanta
C.J. Stewart and Ceasar Mitchell
one. The young men we serve need partners who are willing to walk beside them, learning from each other.

My calling in life is to be significant by serving millions and bringing them into a relationship with Christ, starting with my wife, Kelli, and our daughters Mackenzi and Mackenna. The world problem that I want to solve is racism. My spiritual gift is discernment and my earthly talent is coaching. This all became clear to me after being challenged by friends and loved ones. It involved lots of tears on my part. It is why L.E.A.D. is here and why we need you.

1. What is your calling in life from God?

2. What is your spiritual gift?

3. What is your earthly talent?

4. What’s more important, to be perfect or intentional?

5. What do you have to give?

6. Are you ready to start?

If you are ready to learn more about how you can help L.E.A.D., please contact Kelli Stewart (


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Jaws of Death

People often ask me what is my role in L.E.A.D. (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct).

Yes I am the co-founder along with my wife Kelli.

Yes, I am the CEO, the Chief Empowerment Officer of L.E.A.D.

Those are my titles.

What I do within L.E.A.D. was hard for me to articulate until I met a gentleman named Dez Thornton. Dez gave me a visual story to tell that vividly brings to life what I do.

Imagine a crocodile infested river. On one side you have zebra who are trying to cross to get to the food that's on the other side. As the zebra

enter the water, some will make it across without incident; others will inevitably get caught and become entangled within the crocs' jaws. Some will die, some will manage to break free yet with many scars. Some of those scars will never heal.

The zebra represent black boys in the inner-city of Atlanta. The crocs represent three evils in life that are designed to destroy them: racism, prejudice and poverty. I'm not a spectator on the sideline of this struggle. I am in the river, in 

a boat, waiting to rescue any young man that will grab hold of the baseball bat that I extend to them. If they choose to grab hold of my bat, I will pull them into my boat and take them across the river safely. I have survived this very same struggle, and as a survivor, it is my duty, my burden, my blessing to provide safe passage for others.

How can you help?

Donate so I can purchase more boats.

Click here to donate to purchase more boats for L.E.A.D.


Friday, August 19, 2016

The Inner City of Atlanta from A Different Vantage Point

My commitment to L.E.A.D. Ambassadors is to lead them out of ignorance so they don’t end up as anecdotes for others. I fulfill my commitment through mentoring, coaching, teaching, and role modeling. The only way I can be effective is to understand as much as I can about what it is to be a young black male growing up in the inner city of Atlanta today and who loves the game of baseball. I measure up in so many ways but still have work to do.

I wasn’t a drug dealer or trouble maker growing up but I did live in a crime ridden inner city Atlanta community similar to those communities where L.E.A.D. Ambassadors live. I know that youth from inner city Atlanta zip codes 30310, 30315 and 30318 grow up to represent 80% of the Georgia prison population with Georgia ranking number one in the U.S. in incarceration and the U.S. ranking number one in the world. It is my calling to make sure that I’ve done everything humanly possible to empower L.E.A.D. Ambassadors so they don’t become such a statistic.

Up until last year my understanding of inner city Atlanta was somewhat one-sided. I had focused on the community through the eyes of L.E.A.D. Ambassadors. That changed when I was invited on my first APD Ride Along last year. It was so impactful to my understanding of community interactions within the inner city, that I vowed to make an APD Ride Along a bi-annual occurrence.

My APD Ride Along this year took place on Saturday, August 13, 2016 from 4pm to Midnight. Following is my experience this year and why I’m happy that I participated.

Why did I do the ride along?

The experience of an APD Ride Along provides me with an understanding through police officers’ eyes that positively impacts how I relate to L.E.A.D. Ambassadors when faced with questions about law enforcement.

For instance, I accompanied Investigator J.T. Somers and Investigator Ralph Woolfolk. J.T. is a white male, born and raised in New Jersey. He was a former pitcher at Georgia Southern College. Ralph is a black male also from Atlanta. He was a standout multi-sport athlete at Our Lady of Mercy in Fairburn, GA. I have come to know both officers as good men. They are passionate and skilled at what they do. They demonstrate love for people and commitment to justice. I’ve seen their passion, witnessed their skills in action and their compassion for the people they serve. My positive experience naturally transfers to those I serve.

Additionally, and as we all know too well, the rhetoric over the last couple years in America speaks to a war between police officers and young black males. I chose to go on the police ride along because I want to feel what the officers feel when they are in the public eye. I want to see what they see and how they see it. The only way to achieve that is to participate in a ride along.

What did I see and experience while on the Ride Along?

I arrived at police headquarters with excitement at 3:58pm. The rotation was expected to start at 4pm. I was immediately escorted into the parking garage that housed the police squad cars, vans and SUV's. I'm thinking, “Wow! This is real!”.

At exactly 4:00pm sharp, Investigator J.T. Somers briefed me on a shooting case that we were investigating along with Investigator Ralph Woolfolk. J.T., Ralph and a few select others make up the newly appointed task force by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed called Operation Whiplash which was created to jolt crime down. Here’s an 11Alive news segment about the Mayor’s Operation Whiplash.

About 5:00pm or so, after we finished up the necessary internet research and a deep conversation, we were in the squad car headed to the gentrified portion of Edgewood to investigate a shooting. I thought “Are you kidding me? I just heard the radio say shots fired and we are going to the crime scene?”

Left to right: Investigator Ralph Woolfolk and Investigator J.T. Somers and I headed to the scene of a shooting

We arrived at the scene of the shooting. I'm calm only because J.T. and Ralph are calm. The crime scene has now been identified. It is outside in front of a convenience store. We know this from viewing the surveillance tape inside the store. I'm standing there thinking, “Two guys actually had the nerve and total disregard for authority to get out of the car in the middle of the day with guns out, approach this kid and shoot him.” The gunmen just got back in the car after shooting the kid and drove off. The reality is that it happens every day somewhere in Atlanta. I learned that violent crime is up by 25% here.

The street was quickly blocked off so that the crime scene could be investigated. While several officers and I searched for the bullet shell case, along comes a K-9 Unit officer and his German Shepherd. I asked Ralph why the dog was here and he explained that it would find the shell case. I'm thinking “Hmmm Ok” and am anxious to see it happen. I mean “Really? Come on. That shell case is so small and could have been run over by car. It could be anywhere.” Well . . . guess what? It was right over next to the fence and hidden by some leaves. The dog found it within 5 minutes. Geez!

We made a quick stop at Smoothie King - my treat - and headed back to headquarters to continue putting the pieces together on another investigation.

The conversation between me and my Ride Along officers was so awesome. They both have baseball backgrounds and I couldn't help but ask how baseball helped prepare them to become the meticulous, disciplined and patient investigators that they are. There answer was in the question that I asked. You can't be successful in baseball without being meticulous, disciplined and patient.

At that moment, I began to realize that if any L.E.A.D. Ambassador chose to become an Atlanta police officer when the time came he would be well prepared because he went through L.E.A.D.’s methodology. Interesting fact, Atlanta Police Chief George Turner was born and raised in the inner city of Atlanta. He went to Atlanta Public Schools, and he learned how to play the game of baseball.

I can tell you the night flew by. Before I knew it, the clock read 12:00A.M. Our shift was over and we were back at headquarters. Shortly after midnight, we were on our way home to our families.

C.J. Stewart with Investigator J.T. Somers at midnight

How did I feel?

Although I was wearing a bullet proof vest the entire time, I felt safe with Somers and Woolfolk. I observed that they chose verbal communication over pulling out guns and handcuffs. I also noticed that they treated all people, including suspected criminals, as “innocent until proven guilty”. A little cliché, I know, but it's how I felt about how they were doing their job.

We had a real conversation about race along the ride as well. The bottom line is that several young black teen males in Atlanta don't trust cops, especially white cops, in fear that they will be profiled and disrespected. I appreciated Somers, as a white cop, not shunning that narrative for some and making it a reality for others. I became to understand that his life experiences have positioned him to have an empathetic perspective for the plight of young black males in Atlanta.

I also saw that Somers has several verbal pitches that he can draw upon and throw out in varying situations. He acknowledges that everyone is different - just like the hitters that he faced as a pitcher at Georgia Southern University.

Woolfolk was a star in a Nickelodeon sit-com called My Brother and Me in the mid 90's. Check it out. He was also a baseball client of mine as a teenager aspiring to become a baseball elite player. The stories he told of his experiences as an Atlanta cop with Operation Whiplash, street patrol and Special Victim's Unit were clear, easy to understand and follow along. Just like a movie.

When will I do it again?

My plan is to do a ride along at least twice per year just so that I can understand and maintain an unbiased perspective on what's really going on in the inner city of Atlanta.

Famous rapper and actor Ice Cube played Dough Boy in the 1991 Academy Award Winning Movie Boys n the Hood. My favorite line from the movie, and one that sums up why I would put my life on the line with the Atlanta Police Department is this:

"Either they don't know, don't show, or don't care about what's going on in the hood."

In the context of the movie, "they" was negative. The disconnected. The status quo. As a son of Atlanta and a trusted consequential leader in Atlanta, I am committed to being connected and not being known as "they".