HoopsHype.com Articles

Harlem World
by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti / January 9, 2005

Taiwan Austin
Taiwan Austin.

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.

When you think of the Big Apple, it's all bright lights and big city life. The hustle and bustle of millions of New Yorkers going about their daily lives. New York is the media and financial capital of the world. There’s Madison Square Gardens, the United Nations, the Knickerbockers, Broadway, the Yankees, the Giants, the Subway series, the Statue of Liberty, MTV at Times Square and the Empire State Building. New Yorkers like to live large and to be bigger then life.

In the five boroughs, there are many different cultures that flourish and thrive in the melting pot that is New York. From the Dominicans in Washington Heights to the Asians in Chinatown. From the Boricuas in
Brooklyn to the Jamaicans in Queens. From the bourgeois elite in Manhattan to the Italians in Staten Island.

But about the most famous place in New York is the cultural mecca
and center of black pride in America: Harlem.

All over the world, the name of Harlem rings bells. It has become synonymous with black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan. These leaders have always made an effort to hold rallies, gather support and use the people of Harlem as a jumping-off point for their national campaigns. Political groups like the Black Panthers saw Harlem as a stronghold of the black race.

But I'm not here to tell you about what you already know. I'm here to shed some light on the talent that is hidden. I'm here to bring some shine to the prison ballers who ply their trade in the heart of America's gulags. Right now, we're talking about a little dude with mad handle, incredible moves and crazy tricks called Taiwan Austin.

Austin, 30 years old, was born and raised in Harlem. They call him Harlem World on the pound and he really reps to the fullest. The kid plays A-League and not only does he dominate but he fascinates, perplexes and shines against much bigger and stronger competition. Harlem World is a little dude, but shorty ain't backing down. In the world of prison basketball, he is like Muggsy Bogues among the trees.

Harlem Words stands like 5-foot-4, and might weigh 150 lbs. soaking wet. But his size doesn't stop him. The kid is an And1 mixtape waiting to happen. "He got mad handle," people say in prison. And were talking Skip to my Lou-type of handle.

"I have a killer first step with a mean crossover," Harlem World says. "And moves that should be on the Mixtape Tour. I like to show my man I can't even be guarded and I go hard every game."

I can tell you he could really give Hot Sauce a run for his money. His dribble is wicked good. His little feints and tricks with the ball are off the hook and leave dudes stumbling.

"Showtime is a part of it," he says. "My game is definitely And1 status. It's all about the crowd and looking good is a must."

That’s the Rucker Park coming out of him. Born and bred. Game after game, Harlem World will make some jaws drop.

"I'm working on new moves and perfecting the ones I got," he says with a smile planning the moves he'll rock in this winter's A-league tournament.

"I'm used to playing with dudes where I have to step up to keep up," he continues referring to his days playing ball on the streets of Harlem.

"I started out in the summer leagues in the city. I played streetball against Kareem Reid, Mase and other streetball legends like the Predator, Terminator and Alimoe from the And1 Tour. Also Half-man Half-amazing was on my team in the Goat tournament."

This little dude got pedigree, but now he's in the feds balling with the likes of Monkee (from The Monkee Show), DJ and T-Y (from Homeboyz) and Laruan Queen (from Always Balling). Still, he is holding his own and putting on a Harlem Globetrotter exhibition.

"I'm locked up for distribution of crack cocaine and I got 240 months," says Austin. "I started out at USP Lompac in California and then I got sent to here (FCI Gilmer).

"It was crazy cause I was in Cali and basketball is really not that serious. So when I first showed my handles, they started calling me Shorty And1."

Then again, Harlem World doesn't just play flashy. He also plays hard.

"It's straight gladiator," he says. "Either dominate your opponent or he'll dominate you in every way."

That sums up Harlem World's personality and his game. He is a dedicated basketball trooper. He's a little dude, but he got mad heart, wicked handle and crazy game. He got the flash, the dash and the pizzazz that marks a Harlem ball player. And don't try to guard him either, because he will make you look the fool.

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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