Who is ‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross?
Drug kingpin. Born on January 26, 1960, Ricky Donnell Ross spent his formative years in Troup, Texas, but soon relocated to Los Angeles, California. A talented tennis player, Ross was noticed by a talent scout while he was playing at a local park. As he and his friends began winning local championships, Ross started taking tennis seriously.
Academics, however, were another matter entirely. Ross was frustrated by his education at Dorsey High School, and failed to see the reasoning behind attending classes or studying. As a result, Ross was barely literate, but because of his athletic abilities he believed he was likely to receive a college scholarship. When Ross’ tennis coach discovered that his student was functionally illiterate, however, all scholarship prospects evaporated.
Then came the drugs…
By 1979, he was out of school and looking for a new source of income. A friend approached Ross with some cocaine he had scored at college and suggested Ross sell it. Until then, cocaine was considered a drug too expensive for regular consumption and was all but non-existent in the lower-income areas of Compton and South Central Los Angeles. The region seemed to be a promising, untapped market for an enterprising dealer.
By early 1980, after only six months of dealing, Ross and his partner had an exclusive client base and a steady supplier. By 1983, crack cocaine became the inner city drug of choice. Ross even developed a side business of ready-to-smoke freebase cocaine he called “Ready Rock.” The business addition increased sales exponentially, and soon Ross was selling and making freebase in industrial batches and had multiple production houses. At the height of his success, he was able to sell somewhere in the range of $2 to $3 million of crack on a daily basis.
Ross’ growing business made a staggering amount of money. To hide the extent of his earnings, Ross invested his fortune in high-priced clothing, boats, a fleet of cars, ski trips to Aspen, and seats to Lakers games. In addition, Ross bought an auto parts store and a hotel near the Harbor Freeway called the Freeway Motor Inn. The Inn, which served as a secure meeting place for dealers and couriers, eventually earned Ross the nickname “Freeway Rick.”
At the top of his game, Ross had amassed $900 million, with much of it invested in real estate. The DEA and the CIA were on to him and his smuggling into Mexico and they formed the Freeway Ricky Ross Taskforce, a special unit designed specifically to target Ross. He began scaling back on his empire, turning his business over in pieces to smaller dealers and planning an early retirement. Ross eluded the authorities for a short while but eventually they caught up with him. Ross returned to Los Angeles and tried to keep a low profile. In November of 1989, a two-man SWAT team captured Ross. The kingpin’s reign was officially over.
They story gets much more involved, Ross was sentenced to 10 years in prison, then released on a plea deal, only to be set-up and prosecuted again, this time earning a life sentence. In prison Ross taught himself to read and write and he spent his days studying the law. Eventually he found a loophole and was able to appeal and he won. After serving 20 years he was released and is now a free man. Ross has turned his life around and he is now a motivational speaker and mentor to inner city youth that face the same hardships and temptations that he once knew as a young man.
Freeway Rick Ross: The Untold Autobiography
is an intimate look at the day-to-day dealings of a drug kingpin in the heart of the ghetto. It’s also the story of a boy born in poverty Texas who grew up in a single-parent household in the heart of South Central, who was pushed through the school system each year and came out illiterate. His options were few, and he turned to drug dealing. This Untold Autobiography is not only personal, but also historical in its implications. Rick Ross chronicles the times by highlighting the social climate that made crack cocaine so desirable, and he points out that at the time, the “cops in the area didn’t know what crack was; they didn’t associate the small white rocks they saw on homies as illegal drugs.” All Rick Ross knew was people wanted it.
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