Sidebar: Common's 'One Day It'll All Make Sense' Excerpt
1 year ago
The Chicago rapper recalls how he was kidnapped as a child
When I was eighteen months old, my mother and I were kidnapped at gunpoint. My father held the gun.At least that's one side of the story. I first heard about it all from my aunt long after it happened, when I was already a grown man. I asked my mother, and she told it to me one way. I asked my father, and he told it to me another. The story I'll tell you begins where my mother's and my father's tales come together and continues past them into the separate corners of my parents' truths. Somehow in telling it, the story becomes my own. Somehow in telling it, it all starts to make sense.
My father, Lonnie Lynn, was a Chicago playground legend. They called him the Genie because he'd make the basketball disappear right before your eyes then make it reappear at the bottom of the net. At six foot eight, he had NBA size and the skills to match. He was nice around the rim and had a sweet stroke from inside eighteen feet. But he talked back to coaches. He missed practice. He developed a habit. He was out of the league before his career really began. For all his gifts, he played just one year of professional basketball, for the Denver Rockets and the Pittsburgh Pipers of the ABA.Around the same time, his relationship with my mother was falling apart. He was getting high, keeping drugs right out in the open on the nightstand. He'd react to the slightest provocation. One time my mother locked him out of our apartment, and he shot out all the windows. When he was sober, he was a loving man, but when he was high, he was somebody else.
"I was out of basketball," my father later told me. "I was struggling. My lowest point came in December of 1972, when you were nine months old. I weighed one hundred ninety-five pounds, less than I had coming out of high school. That's what the drugs had done—or, rather, what I had done with the drugs. By the time I got back to Chicago, I was back near my playing weight at two hundred thirty-five pounds. I was ready for my last chance."His last chance came with a tryout for the Seattle SuperSonics. They knew about my dad's past troubles, and they were concerned. They wanted to know he was a family man. Problem was, my folks were separated, heading toward divorce. So, early one morning, my father packed everything he owned into the backseat of a rented Dodge Charger and drove to Eighty-eighth and Dorchester in Chicago's South Side, where my mother and I lived.
Here is where my parents' stories diverge. "He took us out of the house at gunpoint, handcuffed me to the front seat, put you in the back, and started driving across the country to Seattle," my mother says.