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