*The old friends were in their best suits, Ronald “Looney” Barron’s the color of caramel and Tommie “T-Top” Rivers’ ribbed with pinstripes, a paisley pocket square peeking out just so.
It was uncanny how their lives had mirrored each other’s. They were born months apart, raised in the West Adams area. Both were good athletes, charismatic and bright, and both had squandered it all – rising to the level of “shot caller” in their respective gangs, turning their backs on their childhood friendship, then spending most of their 20s in prison.
Behind bars, they became voracious readers. They were 27 when they got out. Each had one son and one daughter. They both had a second chance, and together, dedicated themselves to forging peace on the streets.
Now here they were, together, one last time.
The mourners were packed around Looney’s body; one had left her tears running down Looney’s cheek. T-Top cleared his throat.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “We need to close the casket.”
Read MORE of this LA Times story by A Scott Gold HERE.
Learn more about Tommie Rivers and his gang intervention program HERE.