Last week I made a pilgrimage to your birthplace, Gary, Indiana. I stood inside your family’s modest three-bedroom home on 2300 Jackson Street. I felt the magic…. It started there, nine kids plus your parents, jam packed, livin’ on top of each other pursuing The American Dream. For this alone 2300 Jackson should be declared a National Landmark. One has to go back to the beginning to clearly see the entire journey. Gary, Steel town, Midwest, blue collar, hard workin’, hard livin’, great work ethic and simple basic values. It’s there early where you learned ‘you had to sing and dance like your life depended on it’ which it did. You and your family made the dream a reality. But as we all finally learn (sooner or later) dreams have costs and costs have consequences. I truly cherish the short time we worked together, visiting my home in Brooklyn, huggin’ and kissin’ my newborn daughter Satchel, as if she was your own daughter, our fantastic journey to Brazil to shoot the video for ‘THEY DON’T CARE ABOUT US.’ I regret never getting to inform you that our video was directly responsible for the great film CITY OF GOD being conceived and made. Michael, your life touched people the world over you will never know. Michael, I’m one year older than you, we grew up together. I had my Afro just like you. I wanted to be like you. Wanted the cute girls to fawn over me the way they did you (the girls were not going for it. They’d rather make goo-goo eyes at your pictures plastered all over their bedroom.) At that young age I had no notion of what I wanted to do in my life. You made me see the possibilities even though I could not sing or dance a lick despite coming from a musical family. You, Jermaine, Tito, Jackie and Marlon showed us the way. You guys were young Black boys like us. Upon us was a new day, a new world and it’s on us to make the most of it. In closing Michael, you checked out of here way, way too soon but while you walked this earth in your physical form you changed it. You changed the World, changed the Game forever.
May you rest eternally in Peace.
P.S. Brooklyn luvs ya!