U.Va.’s Cook made it out of Mosby Court, but it has never left him

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - FRONT PAGE - BY MIKE BAR­BER

For the past 30 years, Big Nor­man has been cut­ting hair at his bar­ber­shop on North 25th Street in Rich­mond’s East End. And for the past 17, Mal­colm Cook has been one of his clients.

Like many young men from that part of town, Cook first sat in Nor­man John­son’s bar­ber chair as a lit­tle boy.

These days, Cook is a start­ing line­backer on the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia’s foot­ball team. He has a col­lege de­gree.

He is an ex­cep­tion. John­son knows some who’ve vis­ited him for reg- ular trims have ended up in prison. Oth­ers end up in ceme­ter­ies.

“It hap­pens that way some­times,” John­son said.

Grow­ing up in Rich- mond’s vi­o­lent Mosby Court pub­lic hous­ing com­mu­nity, Cook un­der­stood that each day could be his last.

And that was years be­fore he found out he had a lifethreat­en­ing heart ail­ment.

He saw friends struck down by gun­fire, friends have their lives de­stroyed by drug use and oth­ers sent to prison for mur­der.

The mother of one friend be­came ad­dicted to crack. Another of his friends was

“That was the scary part in Mosby, wak­ing up and know­ing the fact that you don’t know if you’re go­ing to live or die this day.” Mal­colm Cook

her dealer.

Three of his clos­est friends have died. Two are in jail for vi­o­lent crimes.

“That was the scary part in Mosby, wak­ing up and know­ing the fact that you don’t know if you’re go­ing to live or die this day,” Cook said mat­ter-of-factly, with­out seem­ing the least bit de­tached. “I’ve got nieces and neph­ews run­ning around out there still to this day. You’re just scared to get that phone call that a stray bul­let hit one of them or some­thing like that has hap­pened.”

Yet here is Cook to­day, now 23, a U.Va. grad­u­ate work­ing to­ward his mas­ter’s de­gree in coun­sel­ing, and a bud­ding star line­backer on the school’s foot­ball team.

Cook made it out of Mosby Court, but he’s never re­ally left.

DANIEL SANGJIBMIN/ TIMES- DIS­PATCH

Mal­colm Cook, a line­backer for theUniver­sity of Vir­ginia, grewup in Rich­mond’s Mosby Court. The grad­u­ate stu­dent re­turned to the teamthis year af­ter suf­fer­ing a heart ail­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.