He was surrounded now, he felt trapped as if he was in a lion’s cage. They all wore hoods to hide their identity and clenched their fists angrily. This house seemed like the perfect place, he wouldn’t suspect anything.
As they noticed him walking up the steps, they couldn’t believe it. “Hello? Anyone home?” They ambushed him, never thinking he’d whip around to face them.
He pulled out his hand-rolled cigarette that was more paper than tobacco and sat down on the porch of 15800 Pauline St. Lawrence Hines pulled out a lighter and cupped his hands, lighting the cigarette.
The paper burnt as he inhaled the smoke. He looked into the windows of the nearby houses, seeing the shapes of families. This neighborhood was once his to call home. But he changed a long time ago.
As soon as he got to the neighborhood he immediately felt eyes on him. Everyone knew him here and they couldn’t forget what he did to their children.
Even before graduating, he was labeled as “no good”. Tonya Bishop knew him well and remembers him as loud with an intense glare. That’s why she made sure to always lock her doors and windows when he was around.
Hines always found a place to crash so he wouldn’t be out on the street. His friends normally put up a couch for him but he could never relax. He knew someone would blow the whistle.
To survive he knew he’d have to train, get stronger, faster, and bigger. If no one would like him, he’d make sure they’d fear him instead.
Hines had his fair share of regrets. All of his decisions revolved around helping out his family, at least in the beginning. But as he grew older he became more selfish.
Money was easy and the power that came with it was straightforward. But the problem was now he was in way too deep and could never turn back.
Napoleon Harris was very different from other children his age. All his family members called him an “old soul” whatever that meant. He would always lend a helping hand if someone asked.
His mother loved him and he was an angel to her. She just hoped he would be more open, but he had his own set of struggles.
During his teenage years Harris found out that he had a gift, the gift of athleticism. he juggled being an honor student with his athletic career and came out on top.
Harris thrived at Lincoln Elementary against public school odds. But little did he know that his good luck wouldn’t last.
While Harris was a junior in high school, his father tragically passed away. Harris felt the grief deep within him and knew it would stay with him forever. He used sport as an outlet and did well in both football and basketball.
He soon impressed enough people that he was offered a place at Northwestern University where he would be able to show the Northwestern Wildcats all of his talents. He never knew how things would turn out.
Harris entered the first round of the 2002 draft. Then the Oakland Raiders and stayed on their team until 2005. At that point he joined the Minnesota Vikings and retired from the NFL in 2008.
Harris just wanted a relaxing, simple life. He went back to his old hometown and became the proud owner of Beggars Pizzas. He got staff onboard, one which was a delivery named mark.
The box burnt his palm as he paced up and down the creaking porch. “Pizza delivery! Anyone there?” He squinted to see past the dirty windows before bending to open the letterbox. “Hello?” He called again. Then, he felt it – an impact on his back.
He stumbled forward and turned around to greet Hines and his three friends. Their faces went white. They expected a scrawny teenager, not Napoleon Harris. They threw a few punches. He threw more back. What had they gotten themselves into?
Turns out, Harris had suggested young Mark take an early night, offering to do the final few deliveries himself. But he never expected to meet a group of four young men. They continued to attack him but he wouldn’t give up.
He had a family at home. He worked hard to get to where he was. Then, when his hand connected with a face, they ran. But he wasn’t going to forget that easily.
Harris ran back to his car and began to follow his attackers. He phoned the police and gave them as much information he possibly could. What if it had been Mark? The kid was 19-years-old and wouldn’t beat an egg. He pushed the pedal.
Then, Hines and his group ran down an alley and disappeared into the darkness. Harris’s heart thumped. Sweat ran down his face. Who were they?
“In that moment, you just think about your family, you’re kids. You’re just trying to get home,” Harris later explained.
And as he told the police of his brawl while he was covered in cuts and bruises, he couldn’t help but think of Mark. Harris could defend himself. He was 6ft 3ins and 115 kgs. “I was glad it was me,” he shared.
With the help of Harris, police managed to link Hines to previous unsolved crimes. Two weeks after the attack he was arrested at a mental health facility in College Park.
Finally, Hines was no longer able to inflict pain on others. Harris was delighted that justice prevailed. But it wasn’t his first rodeo with the law.
Besides opening a Beggars Pizza, Harris also ran for State Senator to represent Illinois, District 15. Since his election, he has campaigned for education, job creation, economic development, and most importantly, crime prevention.
Not only did Hines and his gang get the fright of their lives, but they also made a terrible mistake. Harris went home to his wife and kids and justice thankfully prevailed!