There was standing room only Tuesday June 17 at Eso Won Books in Leimert Park as a crowd waited for their autographed copy of "Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Autobiography". The once infamous drug lord is now a community activist striving to right the wrongs of his past life.
Rick Ross was initially convicted of conspiracy to illegally traffic cocaine and was given a life sentence though the conviction was reduced to twenty years. He was later released after spending over ten years in prison. Within that time Ross taught himself to read by his count, over 300 books and his journey to redemption began to take shape.
In his 298-page autobiography, co-authored by fame crime novelist, Cathy Scott, Ross not only tells his story, he manages to incorporate life skills for readers.
Having once made upwards of three million dollars per day, Ross shares his business advice and says one of the most practical ways to generate wealth is to avoid frivolous spending and to live within your means. "I don't shop. I don’t buy tennis shoes, I don’t buy clothes or jewelry…When I got out of prison five years ago, they gave me a bag of clothes and I’m still wearing those same clothes."
He continues, “A lot of people tell me when I go out, I should dress better, but people like me just the way I am. I’m going to be accepted not because of how I look but because of how I think. Your mind is extremely powerful. Once you’re thinking right, it will overcome the way you look, the color of your skin and where you come from. I believe those barriers can be knocked down with the right frame of mind.”
Ross’ return hasn't been without acrimony. One attendee asked for his opinion on rapper Rick Ross (aka Ricky Rozay) who has built a career around the real Rick Ross’ image without acknowledging this fact. “He tells everybody that he’s me and nobody knows that his name is William Roberts. They believe that he’s really Rick Ross and that he has this story behind him. I think that gives a false message to our children and the system is supporting that image.”
Ross also cited an incident where the mix-up between the real Rick Ross and the faux rapper Rick Ross resulted in a canceled television appearance because the television executive thought the real Ross was too "dangerous." He states, “They’ll permit somebody to promote violence and selling drugs but if you really did it and you try to change, nobody wants to give you a chance to say, I made a mistake.” While some have yet to move past the stigma of Ross' former image, it has worked to his advantage in dissuading students interested in following in his foot steps. In the five years since Ross' release, he has spent his time traveling around the nation doing speaking engagements at high schools, colleges and juvenile correctional facilities. He continues to receive critical acclaim from young men he didn't even know he had impacted.
“I’ve had kids come up to me and I didn’t know who they were. They’d say ‘Hey Rick, you spoke at my school and everything that you told me stopped me from selling drugs.’ Since I’ve been home, young men continuously tell me that I’ve blessed them by sharing my story.”
Ross is definitely on the right path with his mission to “…make the world a better place for everybody. Not just for me, or my kids or African Americans, but I believe that the work that I’m doing right now is going to benefit the whole country and the whole world.”
The book, "Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Autobiography" is available in select bookstores and online at Amazon.com Visit Ross’ website, freewayrick.com for more details on upcoming speaking engagements.
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