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The Ohio mob
by Seth "Soul Man" Ferranti / March 12, 2005

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.

You hear a lot about the East Coast and West Coast. But what about the heartland of America? Just because you are not from the Big Apple or Hollywood doesn't mean you can't get your gangsta on. And Ohio rocks. They got the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, the Big Red Machine, those Indians and the world famous Buckeyes. But Ohio is mainly known as a football state. They even got the football Hall of
Fame there in Canton. Their football tradition runs deep. The legendary Jim Brown, the NFL's best ever running back and modern-day spokesman for black culture called Cleveland home. And the Buckeyes of Ohio State produce NFL players like Rasheed Wallace gets technicals.

But this football state boasts some basketball talent also. Can you say LeBron James? The biggest thing to hit the NBA since Michael Jordan.

And in the hoods from Dayton to Cincinnati to Youngstown to Akron to Cleveland, you know cats are doing their thing. The LL Cool J movie "In Too Deep" showed how it's jumping off in Ohio and Youngstown is a known mobster hotbed. East Coast, West Coast. It's all good, but the Midwest represents and the feds don't discriminate. The feds are going after the Midwest hustlers and giving them football numbers. They're hemmed up in the BOP like all the other drug war casualties. And I would like to introduce three of them to you. Three ballers.

Demetrius Parker is 36 and measures 6-foot-4 and 225 lbs. He shares the same hometown, Akron, with LeBron and they call him Moneyball. He represents Ohio to the fullest.

"I've been in the federal system since 1994," he says. "FCI Cumberland, FCI Beckley and now FCI Gilmer."

He's played with the best the BOP had to offer – Daryl "Silk" Carpenter, Antonio "Monkee" Rogers and Derrick Curry, who was featured in ESPN The Magazine a few years ago. Parker is doing 153 months for a cocaine conspiracy.

His homeboy Keylan Martin, aka Kilo, hails from Cincinnati. He's 29 years old, 5-foot-10 and weighs 160 lbs. Kilo's a penitentiary veteran having started bidding at age 16 when he was tried as an adult.

"I served eight years in Picaway and Chillicothe, Ohio Institutions. I'm doing 188 months for armed robbery and assault in the feds now."

Clavin "Mann" Moore represents Youngstown. He's the youngest of the three at 24 and stands 5-foot-10, weighing 185 lbs.

"This is my first spot. I self-surrendered here," Mann says. "I was given 32 months for selling heroin to an informant.“

All three of these dudes got game. Parker, the old man of the bunch, has the big body and the sweet jumper. Kilo, the penitentiary veteran, has the darting moves and rainbow three. And the youngster Mann has the 34-inch vertical and athleticism to shine. But these dudes didn't learn to ball in prison. They were doing their thing on the streets also.

Mann played "a couple of years of high school ball at East High in Youngstown" and admits to scoring 53 points in a Junior High game. He played streetball mostly, though.

"I played in AAU tournaments back in '86 with Tyrone Hill, Derrick Coleman and Terry Mills," he says. "I played at two junior colleges – Northwestern Tech in Lima and Tri-C in Cleveland. My high school team was East High in Akron and I led the city in scoring my junior and senior years."

Kilo has some basketball pedigree, too.

"I experienced high school basketball as a freshman and I played in streetball leagues and tournaments at Woodward, Taft, Withrow, Mr. Healthy and Aiken High Schools. I've free recced at the University of Cincinnati with Steve Logan, Ruben Patterson, Jaime Tate and Kenyon Martin.

"I can dribble and shoot with either hand," Kilo says. "My MO is the jump shot and I like to penetrate to the basket hard."

Mann is more graphic about his game.

"My game is like porno because niggas love to watch it. I'm a triple threat. I can shoot, drive and jump."

"I'm a sharp shooter," says Parker. "The Glen Rice type of player that can put it up anywhere on the court. I also got the solid body that can pose an inside threat."

And on the pound all three of these Ohio guys get respect for their games. When we talk about the balling in prison, three different attitudes emerge.

"In prison they play bas-'clique'-ball and homie ball, and that takes the fun out of the game," Mann says.

Parker has a different view: "I don't think the leagues in here are different from the street. We are all competitors playing for the same stakes, for the love of the game and bragging rights."

Kilo follows up: "Prison ball is a lot more physical than on the street. I had to adjust my game to the prison style of play. Dudes can take it to another level. But it’s too much emotions on the court instead of playing ball."

When we talk about hoop dreams Mann says, "Yeah, I had hoop dreams but I couldn't wait for the NBA to provide for me. I had to get up, get out and get paid." Parker tells me, "Professional ball was definitely a dream growing up. At the JC, Jim Jones worked with me on my jumper every practice. But the only thing that stopped me from making it to the league was my lack of ballhandling skills." Kilo says, "The streets, getting money, the women, pretty whips. If my life choices were different, I could of went a long way."

Although their hoop dreams never came true, these guys really have love for basketball

"I'm laid back and mellow but I got great passion for the game and it’s been a big part of my life," Parker says.

"I'm 36 now but leave it to me and God's will and I'll play until I'm 50 if my wheels can hold up." Kilo says, "I'm an authentic dude with a good heart and I love the game of basketball! It’s a great feeling when people recognize your skills."

Mann tells me, "I hardly ever rec. And b-ball isn't as big a part of my life as it used to be. But if the Lakers are playing I'm watching."

These three Ohio cats rep to the fullest and their games speak volumes. Big Parker and Kilo have been balling in prison and will continue playing in the intense physical battles that pass for games in the belly of the beast. Their time to shine is right now. In front of the prison crowds that watch them do their thing in the intramural leagues. But Mann, he's young and he’s got mad skill. He'll also be released soon and if he concentrates on his game he might be able to use it as a second chance on life. Because for real, it’s all about hard work. Parker knows. He tried. And Kilo, he never really had the chance. He's been in the system since age 16. Life is a gift, not a give in. You just have to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.

It's like Eminem says, "You got one shot. Don't miss your chance to blow." Because if you do, it might never come around again.

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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