This is a job for the Crimestopper.
Aquille Carr acquired that brilliant nickname because, as legend has it, all the dealers, hustlers and assorted knuckleheads in east Baltimore shut down business for those two hours every time Patterson has a game.
“Ain’t no flashing lights,” Tammy Carr says, “until after the game.”
“Ain’t no way you’re going to try to go kill somebody or rob somebody when Patterson’s playing,” Aquille says. “Naw. They’re coming to see the show first.”
Rodney Coffield, an 18-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, who until this year doubled as the head coach at the city’s Douglass High, provides confirmation that the legend of the Crimestopper is rooted in truth.
“All your gangbangers, your drug dealers, people out robbing in the community, all the so-called big G’s — those guys are going to be in there, just to make sure they see this kid play,” Coffield says. “And believe me, there’s money [being gambled] on it — how many points [Carr] scores, stuff like that.”
Indeed, the handy crime map on the BPD’s Web site shows that in the week preceding Dec. 19 — the night Patterson hosted rival City College High (and the most recent Patterson home game for which data was available) — there were three car break-ins and two aggravated assaults within a half-mile radius (the largest available search radius) of the school.
But on Dec. 19 itself, with the Crimestopper doing his thing, and the tiny gym packed with both the devout and the sinister, there was not a single crime reported in the area.
The love of family
How can this kid possibly fail?
“You can’t get love like we got right here,” Alan Carr, 49, says. Alan and Tammy have just been wrapped up from behind in a stealth-attack bear hug by Aquille, as the family sits at the dining room table at their daughter Ashlie’s rowhouse, in a working-class eastside neighborhood — the gathering spot for friends and family members after Aquille’s games.
“You can’t pay for this,” Alan says, placing a hand on the arm of Aquille, the youngest of the family’s three children. “I told him when he was 14, I said, ‘Aquille, when you start getting big-headed, all those people you despise — you’re going to become one of them. You need to stay grounded. We’re going to be with you 100 percent, regardless of what decisions you make.’ ”
According to CountyHealthRankings.org, 62 percent of children in Baltimore live in single-parent households, nearly double the statewide rate. Martin counts only four players, Aquille included, among the 12 on Patterson’s roster who live in two-parent households.
“It’s rare,” Aquille says. “Most everyone I hang with, they just got a mom, or they just got a dad. And I know that’s tough for them. I just thank God I got both my parents.”
Alan Carr’s own parents were together for 40 years, and just before his father passed away, he said to Alan, “Whatever you do, take care of your kids.”
At 19, Alan — known as “Alan Star” around Baltimore during his schoolboy days at Patterson — had the makings of a pretty good college career, having put together a solid freshman season at Essex (Md.) Community College, which he chose to work on his grades in hopes of moving on to a bigger program.
But when Tammy got pregnant, Alan, mindful of his father’s dying wishes, dropped out of school to support his family, going to work driving a truck and delivering appliances for Baltimore Gas and Electric.
Alan Carr has instilled in both of his sons — Alan Jr., himself a star athlete in his day, is 12 years older than Aquille — an understanding of what it means to be a man, and to be a father. Alan Jr. is father to a 4-year-old boy, Amare.
And Aquille’s time is coming fast.
Come April, when Patterson’s season is long finished and the days are getting longer and warmer and the teenage mind starts to turn to summer vacation, there’s going to be a blessing visited upon the Carr family.
There’s going to be a baby, a little Crimestopper. Aquille is going to be a father. And you don’t even need to ask what that means for Aquille.
“The Carrs take care of their kids,” Alan says. “This isn’t going to affect things at all. Me and Tammy are going to be involved. Aquille’s going to have a lot of help.”
But of course, a baby does affect things. It affects everything. And it makes you wonder.
How can this kid ever hope to make it?
How can this kid possibly fail?