Al Harris

Professional Athletes Are Under Fire For Carrying Guns—But Should They Protect Themselves?

Al Harris (pictured above) never thought he would be a target. In 1997, the cornerback was drafted by the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers and relegated to the team’s practice squad. By 1998, he had been traded to the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was hardly a superstar. He was modest, rarely wore jewelry, drove a 1999 GMC Suburban and a late-1970s Cadillac Fleetwood.

“Back then, guys who got money legally didn’t get robbed,” says Harris, 34, now a Pro Bowler with the Green Bay Packers. “People respected you. But it’s different now. If you’re a young successful male, especially a young black male, you’re a target.”

Harris got his wake-up call in 1999. While staying at his brother’s home in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., shortly after his first season with the Eagles, he hopped into his Cadillac to make a trip to the grocery store. Arriving home minutes later, he was confronted by a masked gunman who forced Harris into the house where another gunman was waiting. The pair pushed him and several other guests to the floor, duct-taped their hands, feet, and mouths, and pressed a pistol to the back of Harris’ head before making off with a small amount of cash, a watch and
the Cadillac.

“Before that, I’d never heard about any of my teammates getting robbed,” says Harris, speaking publicly about the incident for the first time. He’s since gone through firearms training and is now licensed to carry a concealed weapon in Florida. “I never thought in a million years that would happen to me.”

Harris wasn’t the first professional athlete to get robbed—and he certainly won’t be the last—but his story sheds a light on professional sports’ dirty secret: Athletes have turned into targets, and they’re taking matters into their own hands.

“More athletes are carrying guns today,” says Harris’ agent Jack Bechta, who has been working with NFL players for more than two decades. “They have more to protect. The Sean Taylor incident scared a lot of players.”

Taylor was a Pro Bowl safety for the Washington Redskins before he was gunned down in his home in November 2007 in Palmetto Bay, Fla. A group of intruders broke into his house—thinking it was empty—and shot Taylor in the upper leg when they discovered him with his fiancée and child in a bedroom. Taylor had been criticized in ’05 after he was charged with felony aggravated assault with a firearm and two counts of misdemeanor battery for an altercation (he later pleaded no contest to the two lesser charges and received 18 months probation), but some wonder if he’d be alive today if he’d had a gun nearby to protect himself that night.

“Most people don’t understand what it’s like to live in their reality,” says Jemele Hill, a columnist for ESPN.com who covered Taylor’s death, as well as the tragic drive-by murder of Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams in 2007. “We see a guy making $20 million and can’t fathom why he feels unsafe. Money doesn’t make you any safer. A bullet doesn’t stop to ask for a bank statement.”

From the Web

More on Vibe

Tyler Perry attends 'Tyler Perry visits the SiriusXM Hollywood studios in Los Angeles' at SiriusXM Studios on October 08, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM

Tyler Perry Orders Independent Autopsy For Nephew Who Died In Louisiana Prison

Tyler Perry has hired a medical examiner to perform a second autopsy on his nephew’s remains after the 26 year old was found dead inside his cell at Louisiana's Union Parish Detention Center earlier in the week. Gavin Porter’s death was reported as a suicide but Perry and his family don’t believe that he took his own life.

Porter was serving 20 years for manslaughter after fatally shooting his father in front of his mother, Perry’s sister, over a “senseless argument,” the writer-director wrote on Instagram on Thursday (Feb. 27).

“The murder shook our entire family,” Perry shared. “Despite his horrible act, before he went to prison I went to see him in the local jail. I assured him that we all still loved him, but it was important to all of us, including his mother, that he was punished for this horrific crime that he committed. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

“Call me naive, but it was my hope that after serving his time, and really reflecting and showing much remorse and asking God for forgiveness, that he would have been able to come to work for me, joining all the other former inmates who work for me and turn his life around just as they have. But that day will never come.”

Officials told the family that Porter was placed in solitary confinement last weekend following a fight with other inmates.

“Three days ago, I got the horrible news that he allegedly committed suicide in prison,” Perry continued. “I say allegedly because, unfortunately, our criminal justice system and prisons have been notorious for cover ups and/or getting it wrong.”

Perry hired former New York City medical examiner, Dr. Michael Baden, who investigated JFK’s assassination, testified at the O.J. Simpson trial, and performed independent autopsies on Mike Brown and Aaron Hernandez, among others. The result of Porter’s second autopsy are expected “soon,” according to Perry.

The prison requested an investigation into Porter’s death and the alleged fight that occurred prior to his passing. “We respect the family’s right to request another autopsy to be done. This is not an unusual request.We are continuing our investigation and awaiting autopsy results,” a rep for the Union Parish Sheriff’s Office told TMZ in a statement.

Union Parish Detention Center has made headlines before over its treatment of inmates. In 2018, the prison settled a discrimination complaint for placing a detainee in segregation for six months because he was HIV positive. The following year, two prison guards were arrested for beating an inmate that complained about not getting a lunch tray. Another guard was fired and charged with malfeasance in office and simple battery for attacking an inmate “who was causing a disturbance” from his cell.

Read Perry’s full statement below.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

My Nephew Gavin Porter

A post shared by Tyler Perry (@tylerperry) on Feb 27, 2020 at 2:15pm PST

Continue Reading
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant reacts during the Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals in Boston, Massachusetts, June 17, 2008.
GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP

Kobe Bryant’s Sister Gets Tattoo In Honor Of Her Late Brother And Niece

Kobe Bryant’s sister immortalized her late brother and niece with a new tattoo. Sharia Washington’s tattoo features a black mamba snake shaped to look like an infinity sign with Kobe and Gigi's basketball numbers “2” and “24.”

Washington posted an image of the tattoo on Instagram on Wednesday (Feb. 26) thanking artist, Peter Barrios, for his work.

Vanessa Bryant reposted the image with the caption, “My sister-in-law got this cool tattoo to honor #GigiBryant and #Kobe. 2-24 forever. Love you @shariawash.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Thank you @peterbarriostattoo 🙏🐍💕

A post shared by Sharia Washington (@shariawash) on Feb 26, 2020 at 5:26pm PST

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Sharia Washington (@shariawash) on Jan 31, 2020 at 12:43pm PST

LeBron James and fellow Lakers player, Anthony Davis, got tattoos in Kobe’s honor last month.

The lives of the NBA legend and his 13-year-old daughter were celebrated during a public memorial held at the Staples Center earlier in the week, where Vanessa eulogized her late husband and daughter.

The memorial included speeches from Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as performances from Beyonce, Alicia Keys, and Christina Aguilera.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Dylann Roof Stages Reported Hunger Strike After Accusing Prison Staff Of Harassment And Abuse

Dylann Roof reportedly staged a hunger strike in prison  because he says he's being “targeted by staff,” harassed and abused.

The White supremacist mass murderer, who is on death row for killing nine Black parishioners at a historically Black church in Charleston, S.C. in 2015 and is the first person to receive the death penalty for a hate crime, sent a letter to the Associated Press earlier in the month accusing prison staff of mistreatment. Roof also alleges that staff feels justified because he’s “hated by the general public.”

Roof is imprisoned at Terre Haute Federal Prison in Terre, Ind. The 25-year-old killer was attacked by a fellow inmate in 2016. Roof now alleges that he has been the subject of unprovoked harassment and abuse and “treated disproportionately harsh.”

Roof launched the hunger strike after allegedly being mistreated by a Bureau of Prisons disciplinary hearing officer amid previous complaints over being refused access to a copy machine.

Roof’s allegations have yet to be verified. His lawyers are currently appealing his death sentence.

According to his letter to AP, Roof claimed that his hunger strike lasted “several days.” He ended the strike because he passed out after corrections officer tried to “forcibly” take his blood and put an IV in his arm.

“I feel confident I could have gone much, much longer without food,” Roof wrote in the letter. “It’ just not worth being murdered over.”

Continue Reading

Top Stories