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The Gift
by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti / September 10, 2006

Seth M. Ferranti

Soul Man is the world's leading prison basketball journalist. He also writes for Don Diva, Elemental, Vice and Slam.
If you want the 411 on convicts, street legends, prison gangs, the mafia and life in the belly of the beast, check out gorillaconvict.com/blog
Check out Soul Man's first book Prison Stories and watch out for Prison Basketball, out in March 2007.
You can e-mail him at info@gorillaconvict.com.

The kid is freaky scary. When you see a dude like him in jail you just think... What the hell? What type of injustice is this? The kid was built to play basketball. He should be in college or the pros, so what is he doing in jail? But in jail he is and they call him The Gift for obvious reasons.

6-foot-5, 205 pounds, 20 years old, 44-inch vertical... The Gift has it all. He is tall, lithe, strong, lean, quick and young. He was built for the basketball court and he's taking all comers for his crown as best on the pound. Call him best in the system. Or best player not in the pros. Whatever. Potential is potential. Kids are getting paid millions of dollars for potential, but here The Gift is in jail. But still the Inkster, Michigan native is like that.

"When I first came to Hiawatha (jail), people was doing all this talking
about 7 Mile. He was the coldest here, so me being me I had to find out for myself and old boy got game just not like that," The Gift says, "so when we finally meet on the court it goes down and to make a short story shorter, I just flat out killed him. And now everybody on my tip. And since word's been going around that I am him. Every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, some new cats ride in and everyone want me to show them cats what is due."

The Gift isn’t some dude just faking and fronting in prison. He's a legit player who just took a wrong turn.

"At Inkster High we won two district titles back-to-back in the ‘02 and ‘03 seasons," he says. "I was ranked 14th in the state of Michigan in 2002-03 and I was ranked the fourth best dunker in state."

Don't get it twisted. Check it out. Kid's name is Ervin Mitchell. He even played AAU ball.

"I played for the Detroit Family with Malik Harrison and Ronald Coleman, who all ball in Division 1 now," he says. "I feel I am what they call a true wingman. I knew once I get the ball it's over no matter where I am on the floor. My game is to kill you every way I can."

And the kid is vicious. Throwing down monster dunks. From the moment The Gift stepped foot in jail doing a 2-5 year bid on a UDAA, he has shined.

"To me it all started in the county when we would have rec," he says. "Most c/o's would come and see me put on a show. They loved it when I dunked on the 12-foot rim in Wayne County. Some never seen that and they'd been there 15 years or more. I went to Jackson and I was unstoppable. Then when I got to this level, I was still unstoppable. So for now I feel I got what it takes to be the next top pro ball player. I get told that I am him."

Confidence is certainly not something the youngster lacks.

"I play for the crowd it seems every time I dunk," The Gift says. "It seems to be the most crowd-pleasing. When I first got to quarantine, I seen my dog from the outs and right then he told me I should not be doing all that dunking on people because they start dealing with feelings. So I laid low for a little bit but when I'm playing and someone starts talking trash I give them the business and I don't care if they take it overboard."

The Gift goes as hard as he dunks.

"I feel when I hit teams up day after day for 40-45 points and 13-14 assists a game I know I am the superstar in their eye, but I feel I still got much more to offer," The Gift says. "And that’s doing it on the outs, where I can be noticed and then make it happen. I touched base with a semi-pro team (Detroit’s IBL team) last summer. They wanted me to play but I got locked up. But when I get out, I'm going to college cause I still have lots of community college offers, so I just got to make that happen."

The Gift gets out next year so we will see if he can utilize his talent. He realizes this, too.

"Me, I am more of a soft-spoken type of guy," he says. "I just done some bad things I never should have with the skills I have to make millions. B-ball is a big part of my life. I see it as my gift from God and that’s my way out of the hood."

Now all he has to do is stay out of jail long enough to capitalize on his talents.

Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti, federal prison number 18205-083, is housed at FCI Loretto. Previously he resided at FCI Fairton, FCI Fort Dix, FCI Beckley and FCI Manchester. He has been a regular contributor to HoopsHype.com since 2003

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