All over the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), dudes claim they got game. In reality, there’s only a select few like that. Cats will pump up their homeboys to make it seem like they are the truth, but we only give props to the best. And lately, we've been hearing whispers coming out of the Midwest about a kid that combines the best attributes of Mike Bibby and Allen Iverson.
This kid has been in the system for a while – doing his thing at FCI Milan, FCI McKean and FCI Pekin. His basketball exploits are legendary at those three joints. As dudes have transferred around, this cat's hype has grown. Since real recognizes real, HoopsHype.com decided to investigate and bring you the story of Larry Walker Jr., a tough small guard who hails from Saginaw, Michigan.
Larry is 35 years old and six-feet tall. 185 lbs. and well built.
"I have been incarcerated for 14 years," he says. "After coming into the system in 1991, when I was 21 years old. I started playing ball when I was 10 years old. I played at Webster Elementary School and Junior High. I played at Saginaw High and then went on to AAU teams and Delta Junior College in Saginaw."
At Delta Junior, Larry won a Junior College National Championship in the late 80s. He played against future pros such as Mark Macon, Steve Smith, Anderson Hunt, Loy Vaught, Doug Smith, Glen Rice, Derrick Coleman, Terry Mills and Andre Rison in the AAU circuit and in high school. And you know he was putting it down.
"I classify myself as just a guard," Larry says. "I can play point and shooting guard, that’s what makes my game special. I can shoot, pass and go to the rack."
But it’s also a mental game as Larry explains: "I can think the game, which is at least 80 percent of what makes a ball player tough."
He describes his game as tough, killer or the truth.
"I have a passion for the game because it was my first love," Larry says. "I go hard and for show. I am the one they love to hate. People hate what they don't understand and fear what they cannot conquer. I have a thousand moves and can shoot from anywhere."
In 1991, when Larry first hit the pound in Milan he walked into the gym while dudes where playing pickup games. He met a dude called KK and asked him who got next. KK said he did. When Larry asked him if he could run, KK said, "Man, can you play? Because I'm trying to win."
He then threw Larry a ball and told him to shoot so he could see Larry’s form.
"I couldn't believe he was serious," Larry says. "I was standing way out of bounds by the bleachers so I pulled up right there and it went all net." KK said, "Damn, hell you can go with me." And when they hit the court, KK kept giving Larry the ball to let him do his thing. They held the court until recall and the news spread all over the pound. "The new kid can ball," they said. "For real, he's the truth." And thus began the legend of Larry Walker Jr.
Balling in prison is similar to basketball outside, according to Larry.
"It's not very different from the ball I played on the streets", he says."Dudes play more physical in here, though. The leagues are different now because the level of competition went way down from when I first came in here. When I first came to Milan, there were at least 15 dudes that could have been playing Division 1 college ball and a couple of us could have been playing in the NBA or overseas."
And he's not faking because a lot of basketball talent lurks in the belly of the beast.
"Milan was the basketball mecca of the BOP. But now it’s pitiful." Larry says. "They're sending these young guys in here that didn't do anything in the street except slang and bang. They don't have no skills or talent. It’s crazy to see because when I came up we played sports year-round."
"I don't really have a favorite player," Larry says when we start talking about the NBA. "Dr J, Isiah and Magic are long gone. However, I gravitate toward the smaller guards that hold their own. I would have to put Mike Bibby first because he's all the way around and steps up in big games. I like AI and Baron Davis, too. Them dudes are tough. Those tall dudes are supposed to get off."
"I always dreamed of playing in the NBA," Larry says, "A number of things went wrong. I made a bunch of bad decisions, basically because I 'didn't have a father around to teach me how to be a real man. The male role models that was around me on both sides of my family taught me about the streets."
Larry goes on: "I never really got into any trouble until I graduated from high school. Things weren't going my way. My high school coach taught me a lot but ended up blackballing me. So I was young and ended up turning to the streets."
And just like many young black males, he planned to get in and get out. But once you taste the lure of the streets, it's hard to resist the temptations.
"My plan was to make 10 thousand and then walk on to a college. Then ten G's came and went and I couldn't stop. So I ended up here."
"I know I could have played pro," Larry says. "And I'm not the only one that feels this way. People always tell me this. Even the prison guards.”
In a perfect world, we might have seen Larry Walker Jr. playing against Iverson. But it wasn't to be, so Larry plays his trade in the go-hard world of prison basketball. Larry’s balled with some nice ones, anyway.
"I want to give praise to some of the best ball players I played against in the system: Bones, KK, Tobias, Marv from Delaware, Freddie Red, Hu-sane from New Jersey, Ervin Brown and Walter Partee aka Boobie out of Chi-town. This dude is a workhorse on the boards and defense."
About life and basketball Larry says, "I am a good person, some people call me crazy, but a good crazy. I'm a real dude. I was raised by them dudes from the 70s. I'm intelligent, quick-tempered at times. A ladies' man. I'm a warrior at everything I do."
And for real on the basketball court, he battles fiercely holding his own and then some.
"When the game is on the line I want the ball in my hands and most of my teammates do too," Larry says. "I have won so many games with last-second shots in my life. I just did it two nights ago. I'm all about winning"
One of those last-second shots came in McKean when Larry was playing in the championship game against the best team on the pound. A team that went undefeated all season until they met Larry in the finals.
"This was a big game. I scored 28 in the second half. 38 for the game. And the last-minute trey in the game was sweet."
"Another time in McKean, this guy named Jabo was playing for the New York boys," Larry says. "He told me that nobody ever scored 20 points on him and that he was going to put the handcuffs on me."
Larry smiles for a minute remembering the moment."Never talk shit to me because I will bust your ass."
He dropped 32 on him in the first half.
To end the interview, Larry wanted to give a couple of shoutouts: "I want to send a special one to Robert Booker, the author of PUSH, a vicious street novel set in Detroit. Also I think it’s a hell of a thing what HoopsHype has instituted. Giving prison ballers their props. And last but not least, I'd like to send a special shoutout to my pride and joy, my daughter Quintisha Marie Walker. I love you and I'll be home soon."
There ends another glimpse into the life and times of a talented baller who balls in the netherworld of corruption and violence. A cat who might have made the league but instead toils in the obscurity of the nation's prison leagues where 'hood stars fight vicious battles on the basketball courts of the largest and most violent prison system – the BOP.
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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