Excerpt - Game Over
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Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler (Paperback)
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by Azie Faison (Author), Agyei Tyehimba (Author)

Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Atria (August 7, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743282310


Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Sugar Hill

"Open the safe, nigga! Open the fuckin' safe now, or I'm gonna kill everybody in this bitch! Hurry up, motherfucka..." That's the last thing he said before he hit me hard in the head with the butt of his gun, causing blood to flow into my eyes. Shaking with fear and numb from the pain, I tried to respond: "Look, man...The blood is blinding me. I can't see! I don't have no money in the safe anyway. Just let everybody go...I'll get you some money. They don't got nothin' to do with this."

I was on my knees, bent over, with blood pouring out of my head. I felt no pain; I was numb. This was my judgment day -- payment for all my sins. God lost patience with me. Instead of listening, I ignored the Lord's warnings and turned my back on Him. I heard His voice throughout the years, but I wasn't sure it was Him. So there I was. My head was spinning, my heart was pounding, and my eyes were stinging from the sticky blood pouring into them.

Stumbling around in pain, I managed to clear some blood from my eyes using my shirt. What I saw took my breath away: Five people, including my aunt and my best friend, were tied up in my aunt's bedroom. They were handcuffed and lying facedown, pleading for their lives. By nightfall, my aunt, her friend, and my best friend were pronounced dead. Two more people survived, but they sustained serious wounds. As for me, I took two shots to my head at point-blank range, and seven more: one to my neck, another in my shoulder, and the rest in my leg. I was shot nine times. I saw a bright light and my body felt like it was rising toward the light.

"We're losing him, we're losing him. He won't make it." The paramedics who rushed me to the hospital had no reason to believe I'd survive. In fact, I didn't survive...at least the old me didn't. On that day, the old me was killed so a new me could be reborn.

People who lived in New York City, especially Harlem, during the eighties and nineties regard me as a street legend. I made millions before I was old enough to vote, which allowed me to live a life most people only dream of living. Customized cars, fine women, property, and street respect were my way of life. I spent money at will and made it possible for many people in Harlem to eat and pay bills. Along with my associates, Rich Porter and "Alpo," I had no way of knowing that years down the road, our lifestyles would influence music, clothing, and even Hollywood.

How did I get so much money and influence at such a young age? I was a hustler...yeah, I sold drugs. I did my thing during the Pablo Escobar-Manuel Noriega-Oliver North era. Throughout the eighties and nineties, I probably sold enough cocaine to make it snow in New York City.

But anything built on negativity will eventually bring destruction to those who profit from it. In the end, we all paid a huge price for the fame and wealth we got by selling drugs. The drug game forced me to experience things that changed my life forever.

I was born in a Bronx hospital on November 10, 1964. I lived the first six years of my life between 165th and 167th Streets and Clay Avenue. We lived in a poor neighborhood, and like many other families on the block, we received public assistance, or welfare.

Many people like to say, "Even though we were poor, I never knew we were poor." I think people say that to show respect to their parents for trying to make ends meet. My parents did the best they could, given our situation. Poverty, like wealth, is something that is both hard to hide and hard to deny. I couldn't escape the reality that my family was poor. Everything from where we lived to how we lived, reminded us we were poor.

I had seven brothers and sisters: Wanda was the oldest, then came Kevin, Robin, Rosalyn (also known as "Pie"), me, Julie, Ingrid, and Wayne. Out of my sisters, Robin was my favorite because she knew how to mind her business and she knew plenty of street cats who made big money growing up.

I'll never forget when Wanda ran away from home to be with her boyfriend at the time. She returned months later...and she was pregnant! My mother greeted her with open arms. I guess she was just happy to have her firstborn back home.

My little sister Ingrid was my little baby girl. I was proud of her because she graduated from A. Phillip Randolph High School, located on the City College campus, and eventually did a year of college. By Ingrid's senior year in high school, I told her that when she graduated I would buy her a car. I was about twenty-one years old at the time, and I kept my promise.

My brother Kevin graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, and entered the United States Marine Corps. He only stayed for a couple of months before he received a dishonorable discharge. I believe it had something to do with him smoking weed.

Wayne was the baby of the family, and like most babies, he was spoiled. He never wanted for anything. When I got into the game and had major money, I bought Wayne and my nephew hot dirt bikes one Christmas. They became the envy of the block, since most kids barely had regular bikes at the time.

My sister Pie was something else. At Stitt Junior High, she won the beauty pageant, which made her and me very popular in the school. Julie was always very quiet and reserved. She stayed to herself or under my mother.

Things were so tight back then that nine of us lived in a one-bedroom apartment. My parents occupied the bedroom, and we slept in the living room on a pullout couch or the floor.

To be fair, we took turns sleeping on the couch. Everyone hated the floor because you usually woke up with a permanent crick in your neck and a sore back. On the nights I had the floor, I used pillows to cushion myself. It wasn't comfortable, but we didn't have a choice so we made the best of it. Poverty robs you of options.

Poverty also influences your decisions. For example, not having much money actually motivated us to attend school every day (although we didn't always stay in school all day). We appreciated school not just for the lessons, or the friendships we made, but because it provided us with two hot meals daily. We all went to school early to get breakfast, and never missed lunch. Dinner was the only meal we had at home during the week, and usually this consisted of a bologna or ham sandwich and some juice or milk.

My mother, Margaret Rogers, was a native New Yorker. She met my father when she was twenty years old; he was forty. I figure she wanted to get with an older man who could provide her with a good quality of life.

Short, fair-skinned, and heavyset, my mother was a housewife who wanted to enjoy life's finer things, having grown up poor herself. Unfortunately, my father's salary could not support her desires. As a result, she constantly reminded my father of how broke we were.

My mother was always a great cook. She made huge feasts for the holidays, and we couldn't wait to get our hands on her apple cobbler and smothered turkey wings. I liked everything she cooked with the exception of chitlins -- the entire house smelled like shit whenever she prepared them. She believed everyone had the right to eat and eat well. In fact, people would often knock on our door, and my mother would make them plates with no hesitation.

My father, Azie Faison, Sr., was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He stood about five feet nine and wasn't very large, but he carried himself like a giant. He was dark-skinned with strong, proud facial features. He had jet-black hair like a Native American and honest, penetrating eyes that looked right through you.

My mother taught me the importance of making money. My father, on the other hand, taught me how to be a man. He wasn't just a man; he was the man. He was the most humble and reliable person I've ever known. He moved furniture for a living so he didn't make a lot of money. But he worked hard to support our household. Unlike many men at the time, he didn't smoke, drink, gamble, chase women, or maintain a fancy wardrobe.

My father didn't try to be something he wasn't and he didn't change for anybody. I remember times my mother would have some girlfriends over at the house, laughing and gossiping. My father would sit quietly in his chair watching television. Once they left, my father would mutter, "Thank God. Now I can relax and have my space." Privacy and humility were important to him. I never remember anyone saying a bad word about him.

When I got involved with the drug game, my father was the only family member who didn't ask me for money or presents. He told me he "wanted nothing to do with my blood money."

It wasn't until I began selling coke, around 1983, that I had huge knots of cash. I felt like I was the man because I brought in more money in a week than my father did in a year. Cocaine sales made me the main breadwinner in the house. I paid the rent, bought food and items for the apartment, and gave my mother rolls of money whenever she needed it. I figured that since I took care of the home, nobody could tell me shit.

And it seemed like everybody in the house respected my authority -- everybody except my father. My money didn't mean shit to him. He refused my money and demanded my mother do the same (although my mom had no problems accepting it when he wasn't around). As far as he was concerned, he was the man of the house, and still had the authority to regulate his children. He proved that one day when he came into my room and caught me bagging up some coke. I had shit everywhere: a huge mound of coke, baggies, a scale, and hundreds of little vials.

"What's this? What are you doing in my house?" he asked. "You get involved with those drugs and you're gonna pay," he warned. "And if you are selling that poison, I don't want nothing to do with you until you stop."

I ignored every word and didn't even reply. In my ignorance (and arrogance) I shut him down and shrugged him off. That was the turning point in our relationship. For the first time, I didn't yield to his authority. He shook hi...






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