Allen B. West

Katina, Minnie Pearl, Candles, Number 88 and Fate

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These three unfortunate items collided in the year 2000 to produce the success of wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Bobby Thomas and Katina Smith met when she was just 13 years old. She gave birth to her first child in 1987 at the age of 15. Bobby Thomas enlisted in the Army soon after graduation and never married Katina, although they shared an amicable relationship with joint custody of their son. They are the parents of Demaryius Thomas, wide receiver, who will be playing in this Super Bowl on Sunday for the Denver Broncos.

The early morning of March 15, 1999 changed the course of their lives forever. On that morning, police officers and the SWAT team stormed the Georgia trailer home of Katina and her husband. Katina was arrested and later that day, her mother Minnie Pearl Thomas, and both women were charged in federal court with conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine and cocaine base.

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It could be said that this was the end of one road and the beginning of another. The road that ended started in 1986 when Minnie Pearl began selling marijuana. Later that same year she was caught and even though she spent some time in jail she continued to sell drugs because it “augmented” the family income. And the additional income, in itself, became addicting — it bought clothes and things that her four children wanted. Minnie Pearl was also a teenager of 16 when her oldest child Katina was born.

Katina Smith’s lawyer, Elizabeth Lane, stated that each of them could have received lighter sentences but refused to make a plea of guilty or testify against the other. Either action would have resulted in a lighter sentence. In fact they would have been out of prison by now. Instead they chose to go to trial bolstered by the power of “Law Stay Away” candles that can be found in most hair supply and dollar stores in low -ncome commercial areas. You can find one for just about any ill, malady or complaint or just to attract money — it even comes with a musky-type spray often referred to on the wrapper as “get money” or “millionaire maker.” And other forms exist in oil roll-ons. It is a form of root doctoring. They were relying on all three methods.

Although some authors of articles describe Katina Smith as an “upstanding citizen” and a “terrific Mom” — she might have been both internally but externally she served as a “money stash” for drug sale proceeds. The witnesses to the prosecution of Minnie Pearl included a minister who helped her sell crack cocaine when he was not off preaching or appearing on a local TV station as a gospel singer. He also spoke about her candles, which included not only the “Law Keep Away” candle but also the “Money Grow” candles. The latter was to induce people to come over and buy the drugs, thereby bringing in more money.At the time of their trial and sentencing, Damaryius was 12, Katina was 27 and Minnie Pearl was 43.

Damaryius went to live with one relative for a short time and then on to an aunt and uncle who admirably raised a very studious and fantastically athletic young man. Make no mistake, this would not have happened if fate did not intervene in 1999.

The unfortunate part of this story is that many a “bleeding heart” has written about this case and tried to make it seem that the story would have ended the same for Demaryius Thomas if the mother and grandmother had been given the leniency of say, “Sammy the Bull” or any of the “mafia killers.” I disagree.

Every day I drive to work through a pretty rough area – it’s a short-cut. At 8:00 or 8:30 in the morning most schools have been in session for over an hour. I see groups of African American boys roaming the streets, hanging out at Mickey D’s or just hanging around…doing nothing. This is not the exception, it is ending up the rule. And making amends, by saying that it is because of slavery is BULL.

None of those teenagers were brought into the US as slaves. Neither were their parents or grandparents or great grandparents. It is, instead, the lack of home life, the lack of parents — many of whom were just children themselves when they started producing babies — lack of education and the lack of having the feeling that they must LIVE UP to some expectations for themselves instead of FALLING DOWN to the lack thereof. It is about taking responsibility.

So, Demaryius Thomas found caretakers in his family who really took care of him and this weekend he will fly high. Even as Inmate No. 89426-020, and Inmate No. 89378 watch from prison in Tallahassee with Damaryius Thomas’s number — 88 penciled in on their faces. It would/could not have happened any other way.

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