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.