“Freeway” Rick Ross ran a multi-million dollar cocaine empire for much of the 1980s and 90s. He was incarcerated in 1986 and released in 2009.
He says the risks of his former trade are too often ignored.
“Let’s take for instance Donald Trump. If somebody told him ‘This morning, Donald, you get up, you’re going to have to kill somebody, or somebody may kill you today, or you may go to prison for the rest of your life, or at least ten years.’ You know what he’s going to say? He’s out,” he says.
Ross hopes to use his life story as an example of how self-determination can lead to success, then encourage young people to put their energy toward legal enterprises.
“Selling drugs, I became a chemist. I became a manager, a marketer, a bookkeeper. I did all that myself with no education. Nobody ever taught me, I learned all that on my own from the game,” he says.
Ross says he faces several challenges getting his message across. The first is the glorification of his former lifestyle—his name and appearance have been appropriated by a popular rapper. The other is the attempt to incarcerate drug offenders, rather than rehabilitate them.