[Editor’s note: The following message is excerpted from a speech delivered by Minister Louis Farrakhan on June 17, 2001 at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, IL.]
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

There is a scripture in the Bible that reads, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government of peace there shall be no end.” This is a great scripture to start a Father's Day message, because Isaiah the Prophet saw one coming that would be born of a woman, meaning he is like you and me, but, though he was born of a woman, a human being, yet the work that he did and the wisdom that he shared would be so magnificent that he would be called Wonderful, a Counselor, a Mighty God. Not Almighty, just Mighty God, the Everlasting Father. This one who was born of a woman would become a father, but he would be a father of an everlasting nation, and, of the increase of his government—but it is a special government, a government of peace—there shall be no end. That is powerful.

Think about the son or the daughter that you brought into this world that you have not even communicated with in years. Write your children if they are away from you, and do not be too proud to say 'Son, I have been wrong.' There is nothing wrong with that. Do you know your children will love you more if you could muster the courage to say, 'Daddy was wrong, but I intend to make it right and I hope you will forgive me for not being to you as I should.'

I want to take it from here to look at Jesus as a son who became a father, because every son ultimately becomes a father, and the quality of your sonship will determine the quality of your fatherhood.

Jesus submitted totally to The Father. Let us look at the words of Jesus and the actions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Jesus said, “Whatsoever I hear, that shall I speak. Whatsoever the Father commandeth me, that shall I do.” Whatever Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) heard from Allah (God), that he spoke, and whatever Allah (God) commanded him to do, that he did. He related to Allah (God) as an obedient son would relate to a father, and that is what qualified him to be the Father of a Nation of Peace. If we follow the example of Jesus, the example of Muhammad (PBUH), we would be good sons. Then, we too, could become good fathers.

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
When the disciples said to Jesus, “Master, teach us how to pray,” Jesus replied, “Pray on this wise: Our Father.” If He is “our” Father, then what He did for Jesus, He is able to do for you and me. If you want Allah (God) to father you, then, as Jesus was obedient to Him, we have to be obedient to Him. Jesus set such a perfect example, that all you have to do is put your foot down where he put his foot down. His Father will make you into what He made Jesus.

It is the same with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was a soldier and a commander, but Muhammad obeyed Allah (God), and everyone that obeyed Muhammad was raised to eminence from a low state. Do you want to be raised? Then you have to practice being a soldier, being obedient to a son, who is obedient to a father, who is obedient to Allah (God).

“Our Father which art in heaven?” What does that say to men? If you are a father, you should exist in your house in an elevated state. Everybody should look up to father. “Hallowed be thy name.” That which is hallowed is that which is sacred. Some of us did not have a father like that. We never looked up to our fathers.

“Thy Kingdom Come.” How do you know that Farrakhan is a father? Because, when we started in 1977 to rebuild the Nation of Islam, there was nothing, but I had something in my head from the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, and, with faith, we said, “Thy Kingdom Come” and we brought it in.

“Thy will be done.” As a father, you have to have vision, something in your head. What do you see? What do you want? Whatever you see and whatever you want that is of good, by faith you can bring it into existence. With Allah (God), there is nothing that you cannot do.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” Fathers, you have got these hungry children out there and you may have given them some bread yesterday, you may have sent your little payment, maybe last year, and you figured that what you sent last year was sufficient, but the prayer says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” That means every day a father has to be producing for his children and for his family.

“And lead us not into temptation.” When there is hunger in the house, when you do not have anything, you are really leading your family to be tempted. Satan is always there to tempt you for something that you need or want, but, by an illicit way to get it. If you are a good father, you do not lead your son into temptation, but you deliver him from evil. A father delivers his family from evil.

“Forgive us our trespassers as we forgive those who trespass against us, for Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, forever.” Every father knows he has messed up somewhere along the line. All of us have done it. So, we ask The God to forgive us for our shortcomings, but we must have a heart to forgive those who have been short with us, but, for how long? Forever! Evidently. That prayer is associated with that One that was born who would be an Everlasting Father.

The Holy Qur'an comes at it a little differently, but it is the same result. The oft-repeated prayer of the Muslims is called “Al-Fatihah,” meaning “The Opening.” If you say this prayer and live this prayer, it opens up everything of good for the servant. “Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim,” meaning, “In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.” The Commander is Beneficent; the Commander is Merciful. I am a soldier. Should not I be beneficent? Should not I be merciful?

“Al-hamdu li-llahi Rabbi-l-‘alamin,” meaning, “All praise belongs to Allah (God), the Lord, Nourisher, Sustainer of all the worlds.” So do not do your good deeds, dad, seeking praise or seeking honor. Do good because it is right to do good. One of my children called me and said, “Happy Father's Day, Daddy. I have a gift for you.” I said, “You are the gift. You don't ever have to send me a card to enrich the already rich or buy me something that I don't really need. Just be a good son and a good daughter. That is the gift to me as a father.”

“Maliki yaumi-d-din,” meaning, “Master of the Day of Judgment” or the “Law of Requital.” He is not a judge, He is a Master. I cannot necessarily be that, but I can be a judge. When the father comes into the house and there is an argument, put it on the table without favoritism. I cannot favor my wife. I cannot favor my elder son. I cannot favor the baby. I have to come straight with justice, because I represent God in my house.

“Iyya-ka na‘budu wa iyya-ka nasta'in,” meaning, “Thee alone do we worship. Thine aid we seek.” There is a singularity of focus of the Believer in God, and what you, as a husband want from your wife is singularity of focus on you and on me, but we are so deficient that we create adultery. The woman is not adulterous by nature. She is adulterous by circumstance. She would be faithful to us if we could complete her desire for a man. We do not care whether she completes our desire as a woman. It seems like we are always looking someplace, but I am here to tell you that the Qur'an says, “One is better for you, if you but knew.”

“Ihdi-na-s-sirata-lmu-staqim. Sirata-lladhina an‘amta ‘alaihim,” meaning, “Guide us on the right path. The path of those upon whom thou hast bestowed favors.” Every father should be in a position to give favors to his children. When they obey and do good, favor them, and the ones that rebel, do not favor them. Then, the one that did not get the favor will say to the other one, “Daddy sure gave you a nice bike. I want one, too.” The favored one will say, “Yeah, but Daddy said you are always disobeying him. He has the money to get you a bike, but, you are acting a fool, boy. You need to get your act together.” The next thing you know, the one who wants to win favor brings his report card grades up and begins to do things that please the father. Then, dad can say, “Now I can favor you, because you favored me by being obedient. Thank you, son. Here is your bike. Thank you, daughter. Here is your bike.”

To me, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad has been a Wonderful Counselor, a Wonderful Father. Once, he called me to Chicago and gave me guidance on a speech that he wanted me to make. In my stupidity, I thought I did not want to do it the way he wanted me to do it. He saw that in me, and, very gently, he said, “Brother, I sit right here at my dining room table and I order things for you all around the globe, like a god. I bought thousands of acres of land for you, but I never left my table. I asked them to describe the land, and when I got a description, I said, ‘That's a good piece. Buy that.'” He said, “I do not leave my dining room. Surely, I can show you how to make a speech in Atlanta and win.” I said, “Yes, sir,” and I took my notes. It was one of the best speeches I ever made at that time. He told me that with that speech, if I obeyed him, I would be in the history of 40 countries on this Earth. I made the speech exactly like he told me, and I have found friends all over the Earth. In all the countries that I have been to, I have friends that he made for me by his work.

When you look at your children, thank Allah (God) for the women or the woman that bore your sons or your daughters. Be kind to them and help them in rearing your children. Think about the son or the daughter that you brought into this world that you have not even communicated with in years. Write your children if they are away from you, and do not be too proud to say, “Son, I have been wrong.” There is nothing wrong with that. Do you know your children will love you more if you could muster the courage to say, “Daddy was wrong, but I intend to make it right and I hope you will forgive me for not being to you as I should.”

You have got to start making amends. You have got to start reconciling. You have got to start opening up to your children.

Thank you for reading these words.


CHICAGO (FinalCall.com) - The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told hundreds gathered for a town hall meeting here that those who resist the enemy and fight for justice should be supported and defended, and Black institutions should remain controlled by Black communities.

“Now, there's a few things I want to say tonight about how the enemy's pattern never changes. Once you understand the methodology and the modus operandi of the enemy, when you see your brother and sister being assaulted, instead of running away from them, you should run to them to get their side of the story before you make your judgment,” Minister Farrakhan told the crowd gathered at the Harold Washington Cultural Center June 8.
In a presentation and town hall meeting also viewed nationally via internet webcast, officials from the cultural center updated the community regarding their protracted legal battle and also countered media claims of mismanagement by the center's officials and nepotism aimed at former Alderwoman Dorothy Wright Tillman who worked tirelessly to bring the cultural center into existence.

Fmr. Ald. Dorothy Wright Tillman Photo: dbarge.com
The Minister said the enemy assaults the character of a leader, tells lies and then gets the media to support the lies. Then when those who lack facts read the accounts of those within the media, they begin to believe it and proceed to spread the misinformation and disinformation.

The use of false witnesses is also a reliable weapon in the arsenal of the enemy's wicked defamatory schemes. Mentioning leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois and Adam Clayton Powell, the Minister said they were maligned in the media, and in many cases, betrayed by those within their inner circle. This is a difficult road that faces all Black leaders who desire to represent the legitimate aspirations of their people.

“If we are going to be free, we have to be willing to pay the price. There is no easy road in building God's kingdom,” Minister Farrakhan said.

The Minister said Dorothy Wright Tillman has always been an outspoken defender of the people. While alderman, she insisted that Black contractors receive work in the city and was never a politician that could be easily moved from her positions. While many politicians seem to adopt an self-serving and greedy attitude, Ms. Tillman always worked to serve the people.

“Of all politicians that we have elected that have done good works, Dorothy Tillman is the only one that left office and built an institution for her people,” said Min. Farrakhan. “And bringing reparations to the table in the city council, now, you have to admire a woman that recognizes that this government and people owe Black people something and we've never been paid, and you must never think that a Black president in the White House is payment for 450 years of evil and injustice.”

“I'm here to defend the honor, the integrity, the warrior spirit of a woman and to defend her legacy because this cultural center represents what's deep within her being for us. How she used her skill in politics to get money to build this institution,” said Min. Farrakhan. “Who would want to take such as thing away from us, and why would we permit it?” the Minister asked.

Minister's support

Early in March, Dorothy Wright Tillman spoke with Minister Farrakhan in Pittsburgh, when they appeared on the Bev Smith Show's Town Hall Meeting on “The Disappearing Black Community”. Ms. Tillman discussed some of the challenges they were facing surrounding the Harold Washington Cultural Center, and Minister Farrakhan said he would meet with her about it when they returned to Chicago.

After meeting with Ms. Tillman and looking over the paperwork Minister Farrakhan brought Student National Secretary Berve Power Muhammad into the mix along with his legal expertise and the resources of his Chicago-based law firm Power and Dixon. Atty. Muhammad looked at the paperwork and determined that evidence suggests impropriety on the part of not only Shore Bank, but also possibly the City of Chicago and the City Colleges of Chicago.

Minister Farrakhan also brought in well-connected and long-time aide Leonard F. Muhammad calling him “a master tactician and strategist” to advise the Tillman family in this matter.

According to officials, the Harold Washington Cultural Center is currently worth $15 million and sits in a prime location. The U.S. economic downturn has hit the area hard, and the loss of the 2016 Olympic Games slowed some business investment, but there is still potential for economic development.

Atty. Muhammad after looking into the case discovered that the original lender, Shore Bank, appeared to make money off mortgage payments made by Tobacco Road Inc., applying TRI's payments—totaling over $280,000—completely to interest and none to the principal amount of the loan.

During the discovery process, Atty. Muhammad found that City Colleges of Chicago became the plaintiff in the case in December 2010. Shore Bank and the City of Chicago engaged in a civil conspiracy with the goal of wrestling control of the Harold Washington Cultural Center away from Tobacco Road Inc., he charged.

About the center

The Harold Washington Cultural Center is owned and operated by Tobacco Road, Inc., a non profit organization, and supported through private donations, rental fees for events, and corporate sponsorships.

The majestic $19.5 million 45,000-square-foot limestone edifice rests on the corner of 47th Street and Martin Luther King Drive in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. A 20-foot high 750-pound sculpted statue of the late Mayor Harold Washington greets those approaching the center.

Mr. Washington—the first Black mayor to be elected in Chicago—grew up in the neighborhood, and was a beloved figure for many Blacks who supported him, unified behind him, and ultimately, lifted him into office. A shrewd politician and effective administrator, Mr. Washington died in 1987 just months into his second term. Since his death, the Black community in Chicago has been fragmented and powerless.

When construction was completed and the Harold Washington Cultural Center opened in August of 2004, its presence was a great source of pride in the community. With its state-of-the-art audio and video equipment, iron staircases, terrazzo marble floors and flat panel plasma screen televisions throughout, its beauty is only matched by it availability and functionality, according to its executive director, Jimalita Tillman.

Describing its 1,000 seat ComEd Performing Arts Theater, conference meeting rooms and reception areas, and computer lab, Ms. Tillman said she is proudest of the fact that many youth are able to take advantage of free programs while finding a “safe haven” at the center, especially those having to take the train or the bus through some of the city's hot spots to get home.

“Whether they have Prada or they have nada, our babies are fine here at the Harold Washington Cultural Center,” said Ms. Tillman. “Our doors are open because of the community. It is more than brick and mortar,” she added.

Troubled bank and deception?

In a very easy to understand manner, Atty. Muhammad delivered a legal summary describing just a few aspects of the case. He pointed to possible improprieties conducted by executives at Shore Bank and the City Colleges of Chicago.

As for Shore Bank, it was the largest Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) in the country. CDFIs operate with a stated mission and focus aimed at creating economic development in low to moderate income communities. In many cases, these are also traditionally underserved markets. On Aug. 20, 2010 Shore Bank was declared insolvent and taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation with no advance notice given to the public.

At the time, Shore Bank was the 114th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the United States in 2010 and the 50th in the state of Illinois.

Many of the accounts and their assets were transferred to Urban Partnership Bank, and its existing branches, were reopened under the new banner.

The entire board of directors and executives who led Shore Bank as its financial condition worsened were fired.

“New management leading the efforts to save the institution and that did not contribute to the bank's problems will be retained,” read a supplemental fact sheet statement from the FDIC.

Minister Farrakhan said he was very proud of Atty. Muhammad, and advised the community to remain vigilant because often things are floated in the media, and then the community begins to echo what the corporate media says. This kills the spirit in the people to support and fight for what is right, and America's corrupt legal system, truth and justice often loses out to White Supremacy, he said.

“Brother Berve has laid out a beautiful legal defense, as he did a few years ago for a Black man that was killed while he was in custody. He fought the case and whipped everybody. If you were judging by the way he handled them and the lies he manifested in them, you would say he won the case, which he did. But when the deal went down, White supremacy prevailed,” said Min. Farrakhan. “We should win, but Jesus was innocent—the malefactors and false witnesses condemned an innocent man.”

America's corrupt government

Any leader that stands and won't bend will be attacked, whether in the United States or abroad. Using NATO's assassination attempt to kill Libyan Leader Muammar Gadhafi, the Minister said this “rebel government” that does what it wants to do in the name of the American people. Wars have been fought for greedy bankers, oil and resources, not freedom nor democracy, he said.

“The United Nations is finished and every one of the coalition partners—I'm here to pronounce your doom. Let me just tell you. God is angry and He is the master of the chess board, and when you think it is your move, it is He guiding your mind to make a move that He's already got the checkmate for, so that your move will ultimately bring about His Will.”

“If you don't stand up, you deserve the hell that you are going to suffer because of your weakness, your cowardice and your love on an enemy that means no good for you!” Minister Farrakhan said.

“The United Nations is finished and every one of the coalition partners—I'm here to pronounce your doom. Let me just tell you. God is angry and He is the master of the chess board, and when you think it is your move, it is He guiding your mind to make a move that He's already got the checkmate for, so that your move will ultimately bring about His Will,” said Min. Farrakhan. “God intends to kill the warmongers because there will never be peace on earth as long as warmongers are in power, and it is sad that our brother who got a Nobel Peace Prize is now sending drones into Pakistan and into Yemen and Somalia killing men, women and children, some of the guilty, but many of the innocent are dying from the bombs of these drones.”

Pres. Obama recently was in the United Kingdom, and recently met with Germany's Angela Merkel. This is part of the global setup, said Min. Farrakhan reminding the crowd of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad's guidance.

“Elijah Muhammad said in the end, England was going to trick America into war, France would be in it, but she would get out. But that war would bring all the nations into war. We're at the door now—The War of Armageddon and I'm telling you, no easy days are in front. If we can get through this, easy days will come behind it,” said Min. Farrakhan.

He ended his message with a word of warning and guidance.

“God is watching how we treat those who fight for us and if we do to her (Tillman) and to others what we did to Mr. Garvey, to Noble Drew Ali, to Malcolm X, to Muhammad Ali, to Elijah Muhammad, when the enemy turned down on them, we turned down too. Don't do that because God will chastise you today for weakness, cowardice and betraying those who fight for you.”


In the wake of a highly publicized sex scandal, Bishop Eddie Long's Lithonia, Ga., megachurch appears to be floundering.

Attendance at New Birth Missionary Baptist is down and the church has had to make dramatic cutbacks.

"Now there are a whole bunch of people trying to figure out what their place is, what's going to happen to the church, and what's going to happen to them," a church source told the website Elev8.

This week Bernice King, the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr., confirmed her departure as an elder at Bishop Long's church. King said she is leaving to start her own ministry.

Last week, Bishop Long reached a settlement in a sexual misconduct lawsuit involving four young men. The men accused Long of abusing his spiritual authority and making improper sexual advances. Long has denied the charges.

King said her decision to leave had nothing to do with the case.

How do church scandals, especially those involving head pastors, affect church congregations? How can church congregants find healing after disallusionment and hurt from scandal?

"I think scandals cause alot of diehard church members to re-examine their allegiances and committments to their perspective churches and congregations." These wicked frauds in religion play with thousands of loyal and dedicated members emotions and different aspects of their faith. No one should have their faith and belief system shattered by the imperfections and flaws of those that supposed to spiritually lead and guide them by no means." Religion is not a game,its not meant to be hollywood and its not meant to be some soap opera, people are seeking real spiritual guidance," (THACHILLONE)


It was the kind of insular, issue-driven, black-on-black debate that ordinarily doesn't attract the media spotlight, even on the slowest news day. But thanks to the unprecedented profile of Barack Obama, the most famous black person in modern history, this one got hot.

Last month, in an interview with Chris Hedges on Truthdig.com, Princeton professor Cornel West gave a scathing assessment of Obama's presidential performance so far. West let it rip with a kind of racially tinged dissatisfaction with Obama that's been brewing for months. Specifically, he called the black president out for what he sees as his complicity with the agenda of white, moneyed elites. He called Obama a "black mascot" for Wall Street, and at one point accused him of not acting like a "free black man."

The outburst prompted a swift and contemptuous rebuttal from West's fellow Princeton scholar and Nation columnist Melissa Harris-Perry, who described West's complaints as chiefly personal, not political, sparked by such things as Obama not returning the prof's phone calls promptly or giving him choice tickets to the inauguration. She went further, characterizing West's attack as "a self-aggrandizing, victimology sermon deceptively wrapped in the discourse of prophetic witness," and questioned whether his life of privilege (like her own) as a professor at an Ivy League university was any more authentic than Obama's.

Black folks on the blogosphere and elsewhere who were alarmed by the airing of dirty laundry between two of the best-known black scholars in the country weighed in, generally on one side or the other.

But the real divide is not between West and Obama or West and Harris-Perry, it's between two age-old, unresolved strategies black leaders have adopted throughout history to ensure black survival in America: nationalism and assimilation. Assimilation holds that blacks must claim their place in the mainstream to be successful; nationalism maintains that black success starts — and perhaps ends — with building and sustaining group unity. Fueling the latest image anxiety is a taboo question that animated the comments of an increasingly irate West: What good is Obama to us? By 'us' I mean black masses who are a crucial and historical part of the American working class and poor for whom West has always advocated.

Though she blasted West for his diatribe last month, Harris-Perry doesn't actually disagree with his view of the social landscape. Her defense of Obama also includes a view many blacks share — that the president, while hardly perfect, has been hampered by organized right-wing movements whose reflexive opposition to him is partly rooted in racism.

West is correct about Obama's lack of urgency about black issues. Perry is correct about the depth of resistance to Obama himself. But the combination of these two truths is hard to grasp: Obama is both the man in charge and the black politician stymied by the system he oversees. Broadly speaking, he is both the oppressor and the oppressed. This strange new fact feels like matter colliding with anti-matter, something that was never supposed to happen; black people, to say nothing of the media, don't quite know how to make sense of it.

But at least West and Harris-Perry are forcing into public consciousness a complex racial reality. After the collapse of the Black Panthers and black power in the '70s, assimilation became the black success strategy by default. The result was that assimilation — more precisely, financial and educational success — has happened for some blacks, but is beyond the reach of a vast number of others. The now numbing statistics about incarceration rates, inferior schools, entrenched poverty and the rest describe a population that, far from being integrated, still lives as a separate nation. That's all the more reason that blacks long to see President Obama as at least a sympathizer and fellow traveler rather than part of the institutional indifference that has proved as detrimental to black welfare as Jim Crow.

But Obama is a product of institutions. He is a fortunate middle-class son of the post-'60s, pro-integration era whose own success was due less to black empowerment than adherence to mainstream mores and values. Black nationalism or any clear support of black unity or racial justice is an anathema to those values; it certainly would have doomed Obama politically. This is true even though politically speaking, the president owes blacks as much as he owes Jews or any other constituency that voted for him in significant numbers.

The real problem with the assimilation-versus-nationalism battle is that it isn't really a battle anymore because black leaders, whatever philosophy they espouse these days, rarely put black interests first. Harold Cruse warned about this in his classic 1967 book, "The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual." In Cruse's view, the crisis then was a direct result of the black intelligentsia repeatedly abdicating its responsibility to assess black social conditions and craft action agendas entirely unique to America's racial history. As long as it deferred to integrationist approaches that didn't primarily have blacks' interests in mind, Cruse said, black people would always be reduced to reacting and protesting crises in the future. West's broadside of Obama is such a protest, though in it is a hope that a black man who is in a historic position to address the latest crisis will find it in his conscience to do so.

But putting aside the question of whether Obama is in a position to do much of anything, can principles of assimilation and black unity coexist at the top? Can they coexist at all? The big unstated fear among many blacks, including West, is that Obama will turn out to be yet another disappointing black politician, one who readily articulates the needs of those at the bottom but doesn't ultimately address them. That's a crisis of another color.

Erin Aubry Kaplan is a contributing editor to the Times Opinion pages.


LOS ANGELES -- In the circus known as the NBA, Bill Russell has long been considered the ring master for the unprecedented 11 bands of championship jewelry he won in his 13-year playing career.

But when you think about it, Phil Jackson should be known as the league's true lord of the rings. The 13 rings Jackson earned -- two from his 13-year career as a player with New York and New Jersey, and 11 from his 20-year run as head coach in Chicago and Los Angeles -- outshine the rings of Russell, who is widely acknowledged as the greatest winner in team sports.

(Russell also won two championships in his eight seasons as a head coach, but they came in his final two seasons with the Celtics when he was player-coach, hence his ring collection wound up at 11 rather than tied with Jackson at 13.)

But Jackson's status at the top isn't something to celebrate completely for LOTR. Just like in J.R.R. Tolkien's tale, there's a bit of a dark side to a particular piece of Jackson's jewelry. Each ring for Jackson was special in the moment, but not all of them have served him well down the line.


There's an iconic photo of Russell holding all of his rings in his cupped hands as if they were gold coins and he was basking in his good fortune of just having discovered a leprechaun's pot o' gold.

The photo was snapped by the NBA's East Coast-based senior photographer, Nathaniel S. Butler, who was able to perfectly capture Russell's proud gap-toothed grin while holding the fruits of his labor in the league.

The NBA's West Coast-based senior photographer, Andrew D. Bernstein, told me during the Lakers' first-round playoff series against New Orleans that he would like to get a similar shot, perhaps with 14 rings from another triumphant three-peat, featured in the photo with that signature wry smile of Jackson.

It hasn't happened yet. The Lakers were unceremoniously swept out of the second round by the Dallas Mavericks, fast-tracking Phil's retirement with the sharp shooting of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and the rest of the Mavs.

The Lakers already had the deck stacked against them in Game 4 of the conference semifinals, as they were attempting to become the first team in league history to recover from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series. But it wasn't the series record that did them in.

It was the ring that Jackson wore on his right hand to American Airlines Center that Sunday afternoon.

Call it the Curse of the Clown Ring.


Before we get to the curse, it's important to recognize just how much Jackson's persona is connected to the notion of the ring in both the literal and symbolic sense.

The ring is an accessory as synonymous with Jackson as the cape is to Superman.

Jackson's 11th championship ring as a coach coming from the Lakers' Game 7 win over the Celtics inspired blogger Taylor Voeltz to create this T-shirt design for Phil's "one for the toe."

On the opening night of the 2010-11 season, the Lakers received the rings they earned by beating Boston. When Jackson was handed his, he raised it into the air and proclaimed over the P.A. system to the Staples Center crowd that "This is what we play for!"

Even when Jackson is not wearing one of his championship rings, he still wears a ring every day. And it's not a wedding ring, either. He's not married to his longtime companion Jeanie Buss. He wears a flat-faced green stone ring on his left pinkie finger that looks kind of like a mood ring. Maybe it's a Zen thing.

What Jackson values the most when coaching a team is the community aspect. He relishes the opportunity to bring a group of guys of different ages and races from different backgrounds together to form a tight circle -- or the shape of a ring -- based on a common belief in one another and sacrifices made for each other.


It's all about the ring. THE RING ROUTINE

For the most of the year, Jackson's ring collection sits idly in his home and the homes of family members, the future heirlooms staying close to his lineage at all times.

He would put them to use two months every year, at NBA playoff time, when he would traditionally wear the ring of the last championship he won around the team during the postseason to remind his players what their goal should be.

This spring, Jackson curtailed tradition, opening his "last stand" playoff run against the Hornets by wearing his 1973 Knicks championship ring rather than the 2010 ring presented to him by commissioner David Stern on opening night.

"I think I'm starting at the beginning and working all the way through," Jackson said, explaining why he switched up his routine.

Actually, Jackson's initial ring as a player came in the Knicks' 1969-70 championship season, but he said that ring didn't fit his hand anymore. When a reporter suggested that he could have worn it on a chain around his neck, Jackson joked that that would be like he was "going steady with myself."

The Lakers opened the playoffs with a loss to New Orleans with Jackson wearing the '73 ring. They won the next two games with Jackson sporting his 1991 Bulls ring in Game 2 and his 1992 Bulls ring in Game 3.

Noticing Phil's change in jewelry became a recurring pregame question when Jackson addressed the media. Before Game 4, I realized that when the Lakers went on the road for two games, Jackson had to pack two rings. Talk about precious cargo. When the scrum dispersed, I asked him if he kept his rings in a safe at the hotel. "I just keep them in my room," he said, before adding "Don't print that, please." He didn't want to give potential thieves any ideas.

The Lakers lost Game 4 with Jackson wearing his first Chicago three-peat ring. They closed out the series with consecutive wins -- Phil wore the '96 and '97 Bulls rings -- and the Lakers were on to the second round.

Of course, that's where L.A. met the Mavericks' buzzsaw.

Four games. Four rings. Four losses.

Since we've shown you the rest of the rings, we'll show you those too. Game 1 was the 1998 Bulls; Game 2 was the 2000 Lakers; Game 3 was the 2001 Lakers; and Game 4, the end, was the 2002 Lakers.

Even though Jackson started one ring into his collection, he never made it all the way through. The Lakers only played 10 playoff games, total. He had 12 rings on the docket.

Which brings us back to the Curse of the Clown Ring.

The Lakers designed their 2002 championship ring in homage to the triangle offense. Even though it was a tribute to Tex Winter's system, Tex joked that it looked like the face of a clown, with the purple triangle in the middle representing the nose and the three triangle-shaped diamonds that surrounded it looking like the eyes and mouth.

Jackson wore the '02 ring when L.A. lost to San Antonio in 2003, he wore it when L.A. lost to Detroit in 2004 for his first Finals loss, he wore it in 2006 when L.A. lost to Phoenix in Game 7 of the first round after blowing a 3-1 series lead, he wore it in 2007 in another first-round loss to Phoenix and he wore it in 2008 when L.A. lost in the Finals again, this time to Boston.

When the 2009 playoffs rolled around, he showed up to Game 1 of the first round against Utah not wearing any championship ring at all.

"I was tired of wearing that ring," Jackson said of the 2002 ring. "I've been wearing it for seven years now, the same one."

He wore a variety of other rings in the 2009 postseason, avoiding the Curse of the Clown as he won ring No. 10 of his career on the sidelines by beating the Orlando Magic, passing the legendary Red Auerbach for most rings as an NBA coach.

The next year, he wore the 2009 championship ring en route to winning lucky ring No. 13 against the Celtics.

This year, the Clown Curse got him before he ever got to his '09 or '10 rings in his rotation.


After the season was over, I sent Andy Bernstein an email to ask him if he remembered our conversation about capturing all of Jackson's hardware accomplishments in single photograph.

"I know I'd love to get a shot of Phil with 11 championship trophies grouped in a circle on the beach --very Zen-like," Bernstein wrote.

I hadn't told Andy about my findings regarding the Clown Curse. He had come up with the plan to shoot Jackson's iconic glory shot without the 2002 ring on his own, thus saving the photo the stigma.

But notice how he wants to arrange the trophies.

In a circle.

Or a ring.

Will there ever be another player or coach or both to be draped in such jewelry and symbolism of success and major accomplishments??? You can never say never but it's unimaginable in our lifetime but so was a Black President,so was a Million Man March, and hundreds of other unimaginable accomplishments worldwide that we've been blessed to see come into fruition. So we can never say never but its definetely hard to imagaine any one athlete or coach surpassing what Phil Jackson and Bill Russell has been blessed to do.......(THACHILLONE)


"In my fight against terrorism, to me, the biggest terrorist is Obama in the United States of America," Fiasco said in an interview. "For me, I'm trying to fight the terrorism that's actually causing the other forms of terrorism. The root cause of the terrorism is the stuff that you as a government allow to happen and the foreign policies that we have in place in different countries that inspire people to become terrorists. And it's easy for us because it's really just some oil, which we can really get on our own." (CBS News)
He also explained his reasons for opting not to vote in political elections.

"I don't vote. I don't get involved in the political process because it's meaningless, to be honest," Fiasco added. "I'm a real big believer if I'm gonna vouch for someone, then I'm gonna stand behind everything that they do...So politicians aren't gonna do that because I don't want you to bomb some village in the middle of nowhere." (CBS News)
Fiasco previously ruffled some feathers after name dropping President Obama on his "Words I Never Said" Lasers record.

It's one thing to have an opinion about the President, but to write negative "raps lyrics" about the President is ludicrous. Lupe Fiasco, a Muslim faithful, wrote in one of his songs: "Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist, Gaza Strip was getting burned, Obama didn't say sh-t, That's why I ain't vote for him, next one either..." Some people alleged Lupe wrote the rhymes to spark media attention for his upcoming album. (Celeb Promoter)


It hadn’t been seen for a while. In fact it had nearly disappeared for good. James himself had tried to bury it, some said he’d even run from it. Now, though, it has attached itself like a stain to his permanent record. Again, like before, he’s probably going to have to live with it for some time. James has certainly played some bad games during his career, bad big games, too. But this was different. This was an evil outlier.

If James and the Miami Heat don’t end up winning these NBA Finals -- the series is tied 2-2 after the Dallas Mavericks’ struck back with a 86-83 win -- what happened on Tuesday night will be attached to him with a simple moniker: “Game 4.”

It will be talked about it for years to come. Fair or not, because of both James' polarizing persona and the gravity of this season, what happened has the potential to ultimately define James’ entire playoff run that until recently had been superb.

He’d spent the past 13 months trying to eliminate the stigma of the other game that dogs him, what they just call “Game 5” in Cleveland, in reference to last season’s series with the Boston Celtics. That one had special circumstances that, to this day, are debated in James’ home state. But that dark night for James and this one shared the same DNA, which made it all the more chilling. James’ performance -- if you can call it that -- Tuesday was as unexpected and hard to explain as what happened to him a year ago.

Let's get the fairness qualifier out of the way: Every player is entitled to and even expected to have a dreadful game at some point. This game happened to be James’ 99th of the season and it was certainly like no other. In fact, it was like no game for him in more than four years. That was the last time he scored in single digits as he did on Tuesday night with his eight points on 3-of-11 shooting. These things happen, even to prolific scorers. Earlier this season Dwyane Wade had a three-point game when he shot 1-of-13. Chris Bosh had a game in which he shot 1-of-18.

But for James, Game 4 enters a new realm because of the way it happened. He lapsed into detachment, which seems like a severe sin for a game of this magnitude. It was eerily like a year ago in that game against the Celtics, an emotion that appeared so out of character that rational people started doing and saying irrational things to try to explain and justify it.

It wasn’t that James didn’t deliver in a clutch moment. That is excusable. It was that he looked like he didn’t even want to be in the moment. For a player of his stature without an injury, that is highly uncharacteristic.

James seemed to want to be away from the ball at times in the fourth quarter. He took one shot in those final 12 minutes. With the Heat desperately trying to hang on to a lead that was slipping away, James didn’t even touch the ball on almost half of the team’s possessions in the quarter.

Often he stood in the corner as if the game was still in a television timeout. When Dirk Nowizki drove to the lane to score what turned out to be the biggest basket of the game, James stood a few feet away and watched with that same empty expression. Yes, he was supposed to guard Jason Terry on the play and was supposed to stay within reasonable distance to close out. But James didn’t even move, as though he was frozen in a daze.

This strange zone James played in did not take inside information to see. It was plainly clear to the millions of people across the world who watched the game. It was clear to his team, too.

“He struggled,” Bosh said. “Point blank, period.”

“Well, we’ll have to look at film,” Heat coach Erik Spolestra said. “Obviously, we would like to get him involved.”

The film is not going to acquit James well. In fact it might make it worse. He did have nine rebounds, seven assists and made some plays. The Mavs were double teaming him -- as has nearly every opponent he's dealt with since early in the 2004-05 season -- and he was making some passes out of them to set up teammates. But in that vital fourth quarter, with the Larry O’Brien Trophy and an insurmountable 3-1 lead starting to appear over the horizon as the Heat took a nine-point lead, James’ face took on that glaze.

“Definitely didn’t play great offensively,” James said. “I’ve got to do a better job of being more assertive.”

There are some concrete reasons to help explain why James isn’t having the series everyone, especially him and even the most optimistic Mavs fans, expected. Shawn Marion is proving to be an effective primary defender on him and the Mavs’ schemes that involve zone defense and jamming him on pick-and-rolls are working.

If you include the regular-season games, these teams have now played six times. Even before his 3-of-11 shooting night on Tuesday, James was 34-of-86 against the Mavs. Add it together and that's less than 40 percent shooting for a player having the best shooting season of his career. The sample size is significant, and it can be said that the Mavs give James some problems offensively.

But going back to that fourth quarter, Marion played all of 12 seconds. James defenders were DeShawn Stevenson, whom James has a long history of showing up, and Jason Kidd. For a few possessions it was even the outsized Jason Terry. All are smaller defenders James has the weaponry to attack in numerous ways. Yet there he was, deferring and standing as far from the ball as he could.

This is why James might go into a media blackout until Game 5, because these things are so hard to explain. With these stakes and with what was taking place in the game -- the Mavs closing on a 21-9 run -- that is what put this particular effort into the mystifying territory.

“They haven’t changed their coverages on me,” James said. “I still got to make plays for my team, but also make plays for myself.”

It’s also possible James just got tired. He’s hasn’t had a break in the second half of games for weeks now and it is about to become the longest season James has ever played. With Dallas coach Rick Carlisle changing his rotation to give Marion a rest and get fresh bodies on James, there is the possibility that James could have been out of energy. But this is denied.

“No, he’s physically fine,” Spoelstra said. “I just have to do a better job of making sure he’s in positions where he can be aggressive.”

For a 48-hour period, James is going to be debated in every corner where they discuss professional basketball. Some of it is because the Heat lost and the series is in jeopardy and James is one of the biggest lightning rods in the league’s history. But that’s not all -- there’s more than just hype here.

Last summer when James had to contemplate what went wrong in a season during which he was sure he was getting his first title, he had to face the facts of that Game 5 nightmare. Then he fairly could say his teammates weren't able to pick him up, they’d “died down in the moment” as James said two weeks ago. On Tuesday, Wade and Bosh combined to score 56 points. The Heat’s defense held Dallas to less than 40 percent shooting and just 41 points in the second half. The Heat lost because James died down in this moment in the same strange way he did a year ago.

For now, he’s going to get encouraging texts from friends and mentors. Pat Riley, the king of the motivational speech, will surely be lightly rapping on James’ door. James has a support system and it’s served him before.

Ultimately, the Heat are probably going to need the real James to step forward in this series. They couldn’t get here without him. Last season when James went into that shell there was no recovery time to get out. The series is new again now, a best-of-three. But James is going to have to look in the mirror and decipher what demons returned in Game 4. There’s no more room for it to happen again.

“I’m confident in my ability,” James said. “I’ll come back in Game 5 and do the things that need to be done.” (ESPN)

"Dwayne Wade has clearly played harder,more consistent,and with more passion than Lebron James on the NBA's biggest stage,it gets no bigger than this." Wade has been Miami's best player hands down in these Finals,Lebron is playing like the hefty sidekick thats been overhyped his whole career." True indeed the Heat are probably going to go ahead and win it all this year but it still doesn't negate his poor play on the leagues biggest stage. Lebron has finally surpassed Kobe in 2011 as the single most dominant player in the world currently but what has that equalled out to?

In this world and this society its all about winning and winning it all,championships fair or not is the ultimate measuring stick in sports. So do we all hail the Queen or King??? Check the definition of both and get back to me because MJ. without 6 Championships would not be immortalized and revered as the greatest to ever do it and its unfair to MJ. and all the Legendary greats that Lebron be prematurely compared to them and their lofty accomplishments. Think About It!!!!!(THA CHILL ONE)


The business of Tiger Woods has been taking on water the past two years. Sponsors like Accenture, AT&T, Gillette and PepsiCo have jumped ship since his November 2009 car crash and the resulting scandal. His golf course design business has been hammered by the economic downturn. His winless streak on the course is at 20 months and counting, and the former No. 1 golfer in the world is now ranked 13th. Woods’ annual earnings have plummeted $50 million over the past two years.

Yet Tiger Woods is still the highest-paid athlete in the world–and it isn’t even a close call. Woods earned $75 million over the past 12 months, easily outdistancing second-ranked Kobe Bryant, who made $53 million.

Woods can thank two long-term sponsors for his hefty income. Nike signed Woods to a five-year, $40 million deal when he turned pro in 1998. Electronic Arts released its first “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” videogame in 1998.

The two companies have built significant businesses on Woods’ back, and his paychecks from both have grown. Nike launched its golf division with Woods essentially holding up the brand; last year it reported sales of $638 million. EA released its 14th Woods videogame in March, and the game racked up record first-week sales of 225,000 units; that topped the old sales record, set in 2007, by 17%. EA and Nike combined are responsible for more than half of Woods’ $75 million in earnings.

Bryant leads 15 basketball players that made the list, more than any other sport. Bryant added Turkish Airlines and Mercedes-Benz’s Smart Car to his endorsement portfolio this year. His $24.8 million salary with the Los Angeles Lakers is $4 million more than any other NBA player. No. 3 on the list is Miami Heat forward LeBron James, who earned $48 million over the past year (see “LeBron James Looks To Conquer The World”). Bryant is on point within the next two seasons to be the first NBA Player to be paid in the likes of Michael Jordan at $30 Million a season according to the terms of his extension with the Lakers.

This year’s 50 highest-paid athletes earned $1.4 billion combined, or $28 million on average. That’s down 11% from a year ago, thanks in large part to the drop in Woods’ earnings and the inactivity of Floyd Mayweather, who hasn’t fought in 13 months after appearing at No. 2 on last year’s list with earnings of $65 million. The minimum to make the list was $18.8 million, compared to $21 million in 2010.

Another big factor in the drop in athlete earnings is the NFL lockout. The owners locked out players in March, and very few contracts were signed beforehand, including no blockbusters with big signing bonuses in the short offseason.

Last year’s NFL draft class also failed to land a player on the list. The top two picks, Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh, signed rich contracts with guarantees of $50 million and $40 million, respectively, but most of that money has not yet been paid out. Last year nine NFL players made our list, but this year only three made the cut, led by No. 13 Tom Brady at $31 million.

Once again women are under-represented among the top-earning athletes. Tennis player Maria Sharapova is the only woman who cracked the top 50 for the second straight year. She ranks 29th with earnings of $24.2 million, largely from her lucrative Nike deal, which pays her royalties on her lines of tennis apparel and Cole Haan shoes.


Being diagnosed with cancer is a frightening experience. The disease can strike anyone, anywhere, at any age. It is no respecter of persons. It attacks rich and poor, young and old, the famous and the unknown, all over the world.

However, there are more and more cancer cures occurring. Intensive research is being carried on every day and new treatments and combination of treatments are being discovered and tested all the time. There is much reason for hope.

A cancer diagnosis is no longer a certain indicator of imminent death. With good medical care, an optimistic and determined attitude, and the love and support of family and friends, cancer can often be beaten. Following, there is a list of well-known personalities who have confronted and overcome the disease.

* Lance Armstrong is a world-renowned athlete and cyclist who has won the Tour de France seven times. In 1996, he was found to have prostate cancer, which had spread to his stomach, lungs and brain. He was treated with surgery and chemotherapy and today he is cancer-free. He is continuing with his cycling career. He has established the Lance Armstrong Foundation which funds cancer research and helps those fighting the disease.

* Colin Powell is a retired United States Army General and held the position of sixty-fifth Secretary of State (2001-2004) under President George W. Bush. In 2003, at the age of 66, he had his cancerous prostate gland removed. He is presently classed as a cancer survivor.

* Actress Kate Jackson, one of most famous of "Charlie's Angels", from the TV show of the same name, is a two-time breast cancer survivor. After the first diagnosis in 1987, she opted for a "lumpectomy" , removal only of the cancerous growth, while leaving the breast intact. When the cancer recurred in 1989, she had a partial mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. She is presently cancer-free.

* British singer and song-writer Rod Stuart was found to have a malignant growth on the thyroid gland in his throat, during a routine check-up in 2001. The cancer was surgically removed. Rod related that he had to completely retrain his voice after the operation, but now feels that he is singing better than ever.

* Ronald Reagan, at age 74, during his term in office as President of the United States, was diagnosed with colon cancer. He had surgery to remove the tumor in 1985 and the operation was successful. He had skin cancers removed in 1987 and 1995. He died at age 93 in

)--"I am a survivor of prostate cancer," the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said.
realized that this disease was killing Black men at terrific rates, and that as men, we are difficult in terms of allowing ourselves to be tested. But, my dear brothers, let me encourage you. In fact, I’m going to spend the rest of my days encouraging men, in general, and Black men in particular, don’t wait," the Minister continued.

Betsy London
He first expressed this sentiment while suffering severe side effects from his treatment for the cancer, and his daughter, Maria Farrakhan Muhammad, took his feelings to heart.

She, along with one of her father’s doctors, Alfred Goldson, and attorneys Lewis Meyers and Berve Muhammad, created the blueprint for an institution dedicated primarily to increasing the awareness of the causes and alternative treatments of cancer in general, and prostate cancer in particular. They are seeking to obtain 501(c) (3) tax-exempt status for the foundation.

Its endowment will be housed at Howard University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., where a clinic will later open to help provide treatment for prostate cancer to men who can’t afford to pay for it themselves.

While keeping his remarks concise, Minister Farrakhan shared a detailed chronology of his personal battle against prostate cancer and related illnesses. After a cancer screening at 42, his doctor remarked that the condition of his prostate was that of a teenager’s.

However, in the 16-year gap between his next testing for the disease, cancer had developed in his prostate and he was diagnosed after a digital rectal exam in 1991. Although his treatment was successful, he endured excruciating pain from a subsequent ulcer and hemorrhage that brought him to death’s door, he explained, calling prostate cancer a scourge that must be stopped.

"We are losing too many of our great ones," he said, adding that it is more than the loss of one man; it is a family’s loss, so fighting this cancer becomes a family issue.

He noted that Black men have the highest mortality rates from the disease in the world and advised them to begin taking annual prostate tests at the age of 35. To those who say they cannot afford the exam every year, Minister Farrakhan urged them to cut back on something fancy at least once a year to free up the necessary funds and keep their scheduled appointment.

"Don’t sleep like I did when I was 42," he warned. "That’s your date with destiny."

After reminding the audience that two million men would not have showed up for the Million Man March had not the women in their lives inspired and pushed them to be there, Minister Farrakhan asked women to help motivate the men in their families to get screened for prostate cancer. He also encouraged them to take care of their own health as it relates to the necessary exams for female reproductive cancers.

In his concluding comments, he thanked his family members for their loving concern and care, especially his daughter, Maria, for her vision and labor in establishing the foundation. He informed the press of his plans to garner support from entertainers, sports figures and business people in building the foundation and clinic at Howard University.

Minister. Farrakhan toured the mobile cancer pre-screening unit before the medical staff began conducting free tests for prostate cancer.
Along with the press, representatives present were Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hilliard and Chuck Bowen, executive assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley, who read a letter from the mayor expressing warm greetings honoring Min. Farrakhan’s birth—which was part of the weekend celebration launching the foundation—and appreciating his residence in the city.

Illinois State Senator Donnie Trotter (D) delivered a proclamation on behalf of Governor Rod Blagojevich that declared May 10 to be the city’s "Prostate Cancer Awareness Day." "We commend Minister Farrakhan in taking the lead in getting this great message to our country," the senator said.

The message is not only great, it is critical, according to the brief statistical report given by Betsy London, who directed the day-long pre-screening drive at the mosque immediately following the press conference. Representing the National Prostate Cancer Coalition, the largest advocacy organization dedicated to the awareness of the disease, she said one in six men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime and the chances of Black men developing the disease is 60 percent higher than their White counterparts. Black men also have doubled the mortality rate.

In 2003, the coalition estimates that 25,000 Black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 6,000 will die. Every 18 minutes, an American man dies from this cancer, which is the single most diagnosed non-skin cancer among Black people. Before the use of a blood test that screens for prostate specific antigens (PSA), about three-fourths of all prostate cancer cases were found in the late stages making treatment more difficult. However, widespread use of pre-screening has reversed this trend and now 75 percent of all cases are found in the early stages, which should give men hope.

Because Min. Farrakhan’s brother Alvan was diagnosed with, and unfortunately died from prostate cancer, his chances of contracting the cancer was raised to one in three. But, Min. Farrakhan said by God’s Grace, he fought the disease and stands today cancer free and nearly completely recovered from his cancer-related illnesses.

He urged all men to face the screening and the results with the same determination.

"Once you know you have it, then the next thing is aggressively start your war, and since we’re warriors, we don’t give in to these things," Minister Farrakhan concluded. "We overcome."

Christina Applegate: In 2008, the prime-time star was diagnosed with a malignancy in the left breast. After testing positive for the so-called "breast-cancer gene," Applegate, whose own mother battled the disease, opted for a double mastectomy. Within weeks, she was able to declare herself "100 percent clear" of cancer. Today, she's newly married and expecting her first child. Other celebrity breast-cancer survivors include Sheryl Crow, Olivia Newton-John and Shaft icon Richard Roundtree (yes, men can get the disease, too).

Michael C. Hall: Figuring his red-carpet headwear would lead to questions, the Dexter star opened up about his Hodgkin's lymphoma battle just before last January's Golden Globes. Hall ended up winning the Globe, and, four months later, wife/costar Jennifer Carpenter said he'd won back his health, too, enthusing her husband was "fully recovered."

Ewan McGregor: After a scrape with skin cancer in 2008, the Jedi knight from the Star Wars prequels said he was "fine," and he proved himself so when he smartly answered a stupid question about whether he'd been scared: "It was great fun having skin cancer, it was great, I really enjoyed it." Senator John McCain and Elizabeth Taylor are among the long-term celebrity skin-cancer survivors.

Famous Prostate Cancer Survivors: Robert De Niro: Diagnosed in 2003, De Niro kept secretive about his treatment, but many believe he underwent a prostatectomy. Joe Torre: Famed manager of the New York Yankees battled prostate cancer in 1999. He reportedly said he suffered no symptoms of prostate cancer. He opted for a prostatectomy. Nelson Mandela: Former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2001. It is reported that he went through radiation therapy as treatment. Rudy Giuliani: Former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani was diagnosed in 2000. His diagnosis was prompted by high PSA levels in his blood. Arnold Palmer: Palmer was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1997. 8 weeks after surgery, he was on back on the green golfing. Harry Belafonte: Actor Harry Belafonte was diagnosed in 1996 and now is an activist for prostate cancer survivorship. Bob Dole Seantor Bob Dole was diagnosed in 1991 and was treated with surgery. Colin Powel Powell underwent surgery in 2003 for prostate cancer and made a full recovery, becoming a prostate cancer survivor. John Kerry John Kerry's prostate cancer was detected through a normal PSA test. It was significantly higher than the last PSA test, but still with the normal range. He was diagnosed in 2002 and has made a full recovery


Actually, that's not in the Bible
(CNN) – NFL legend Mike Ditka was giving a news conference one day after being fired as the coach of the Chicago Bears when he decided to quote the Bible.

“Scripture tells you that all things shall pass,” a choked-up Ditka said after leading his team to only five wins during the previous season. “This, too, shall pass.”

Ditka fumbled his biblical citation, though. The phrase “This, too, shall pass” doesn’t appear in the Bible. Ditka was quoting a phantom scripture that sounds like it belongs in the Bible, but look closer and it’s not there.

Ditka’s biblical blunder is as common as preachers delivering long-winded public prayers. The Bible may be the most revered book in America, but it’s also one of the most misquoted. Politicians, motivational speakers, coaches - all types of people - quote passages that actually have no place in the Bible, religious scholars say.

These phantom passages include:

“God helps those who help themselves.”

“Spare the rod, spoil the child.”

And there is this often-cited paraphrase: Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden apple in the Garden of Eden.

None of those passages appear in the Bible, and one is actually anti-biblical, scholars say.

But people rarely challenge them because biblical ignorance is so pervasive that it even reaches groups of people who should know better, says Steve Bouma-Prediger, a religion professor at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.

“In my college religion classes, I sometimes quote 2 Hesitations 4:3 (‘There are no internal combustion engines in heaven’),” Bouma-Prediger says. “I wait to see if anyone realizes that there is no such book in the Bible and therefore no such verse.

“Only a few catch on.”

Few catch on because they don’t want to - people prefer knowing biblical passages that reinforce their pre-existing beliefs, a Bible professor says.

“Most people who profess a deep love of the Bible have never actually read the book,” says Rabbi Rami Shapiro, who once had to persuade a student in his Bible class at Middle Tennessee State University that the saying “this dog won’t hunt” doesn’t appear in the Book of Proverbs.

“They have memorized parts of texts that they can string together to prove the biblical basis for whatever it is they believe in,” he says, “but they ignore the vast majority of the text."

Phantom biblical passages work in mysterious ways

Ignorance isn’t the only cause for phantom Bible verses. Confusion is another.

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”

“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism, says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,” Kidd says.

Our fondness for the short and tweet-worthy may also explain our fondness for phantom biblical phrases. The pseudo-verses function like theological tweets: They’re pithy summarizations of biblical concepts.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child” falls into that category. It’s a popular verse - and painful for many kids. Could some enterprising kid avoid the rod by pointing out to his mother that it's not in the Bible?

It’s doubtful. Her possible retort: The popular saying is a distillation of Proverbs 13:24: “The one who withholds [or spares] the rod is one who hates his son.”

Another saying that sounds Bible-worthy: “Pride goes before a fall.” But its approximation, Proverbs 16:18, is actually written: “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

There are some phantom biblical verses for which no excuse can be offered. The speaker goofed.

That’s what Bruce Wells, a theology professor, thinks happened to Ditka, the former NFL coach, when he strayed from the gridiron to biblical commentary during his 1993 press conference in Chicago.

Wells watched Ditka’s biblical blunder on local television when he lived in Chicago. After Ditka cited the mysterious passage, reporters scrambled unsuccessfully the next day to find the biblical source.

They should have consulted Wells, who is now director of the ancient studies program at Saint Joseph’s University in Pennsylvania. Wells says Ditka’s error probably came from a peculiar feature of the King James Bible.

“My hunch on the Ditka quote is that it comes from a quirk of the King James translation,” Wells says. “Ancient Hebrew had a particular way of saying things like, ‘and the next thing that happened was…’ The King James translators of the Old Testament consistently rendered this as ‘and it came to pass.’ ’’

When phantom Bible passages turn dangerous

People may get verses wrong, but they also mangle plenty of well-known biblical stories as well.

Two examples: The scripture never says a whale swallowed Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, nor did any New Testament passages say that three wise men visited baby Jesus, scholars say.

Those details may seem minor, but scholars say one popular phantom Bible story stands above the rest: The Genesis story about the fall of humanity.

Most people know the popular version - Satan in the guise of a serpent tempts Eve to pick the forbidden apple from the Tree of Life. It’s been downhill ever since.

But the story in the book of Genesis never places Satan in the Garden of Eden.

“Genesis mentions nothing but a serpent,” says Kevin Dunn, chair of the department of religion at Tufts University in Massachusetts.

“Not only does the text not mention Satan, the very idea of Satan as a devilish tempter postdates the composition of the Garden of Eden story by at least 500 years,” Dunn says.

Getting biblical scriptures and stories wrong may not seem significant, but it can become dangerous, one scholar says.

Most people have heard this one: “God helps those that help themselves.” It’s another phantom scripture that appears nowhere in the Bible, but many people think it does. It's actually attributed to Benjamin Franklin, one of the nation's founding fathers.

The passage is popular in part because it is a reflection of cherished American values: individual liberty and self-reliance, says Sidnie White Crawford, a religious studies scholar at the University of Nebraska.

Yet that passage contradicts the biblical definition of goodness: defining one’s worth by what one does for others, like the poor and the outcast, Crawford says.

Crawford cites a scripture from Leviticus that tells people that when they harvest the land, they should leave some “for the poor and the alien” (Leviticus 19:9-10), and another passage from Deuteronomy that declares that people should not be “tight-fisted toward your needy neighbor.”

“We often infect the Bible with our own values and morals, not asking what the Bible’s values and morals really are,” Crawford says.

Where do these phantom passages come from?

It’s easy to blame the spread of phantom biblical passages on pervasive biblical illiteracy. But the causes are varied and go back centuries.

Some of the guilty parties are anonymous, lost to history. They are artists and storytellers who over the years embellished biblical stories and passages with their own twists.

If, say, you were an anonymous artist painting the Garden of Eden during the Renaissance, why not portray the serpent as the devil to give some punch to your creation? And if you’re a preacher telling a story about Jonah, doesn’t it just sound better to say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale, not a “great fish”?

Others blame the spread of phantom Bible passages on King James, or more specifically the declining popularity of the King James translation of the Bible.

That translation, which marks 400 years of existence this year, had a near monopoly on the Bible market as recently as 50 years ago, says Douglas Jacobsen, a professor of church history and theology at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

“If you quoted the Bible and got it wrong then, people were more likely to notice because there was only one text,” he says. “Today, so many different translations are used that almost no one can tell for sure if something supposedly from the Bible is being quoted accurately or not.”

Others blame the spread of phantom biblical verses on Martin Luther, the German monk who ignited the Protestant Reformation, the massive “protest” against the excesses of the Roman Catholic Church that led to the formation of Protestant church denominations.

“It is a great Protestant tradition for anyone - milkmaid, cobbler, or innkeeper - to be able to pick up the Bible and read for herself. No need for a highly trained scholar or cleric to walk a lay person through the text,” says Craig Hazen, director of the Christian Apologetics program at Biola University in Southern California.

But often the milkmaid, the cobbler - and the NFL coach - start creating biblical passages without the guidance of biblical experts, he says.

“You can see this manifest today in living room Bible studies across North America where lovely Christian people, with no training whatsoever, drink decaf, eat brownies and ask each other, ‘What does this text mean to you?’’’ Hazen says.

“Not only do they get the interpretation wrong, but very often end up quoting verses that really aren’t there.”

"To this day so many people,millions to be exact misquote scriptures everyday and they do a real disservice to the spectrum of organized religion and its a travesty."


The 5-4 decision represents one of the largest prison release orders in U.S. history. The court majority says overcrowding has caused 'suffering and death.' In a sharp dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia warns 'terrible things are sure to happen.'

Inmates sit for dinner at the California State Prison in Lancaster. A federal overseer of the state's prison system has suggested freeing the sickest inmates as a way to cut costs.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to release tens of thousands of its prisoners to relieve overcrowding, saying that "needless suffering and death" had resulted from putting too many inmates into facilities that cannot hold them in decent conditions.

It is one of the largest prison release orders in the nation's history, and it sharply split the high court.

Disturbance at Sacramento-area prison leaves several inmates injured
Document: Read the annotated Supreme Court decision
Editorial: Time for California to tackle prison overcrowding
Lawsuit asks state to pay for inmate's sex-change operation
Justices upheld an order from a three-judge panel in California that called for releasing 38,000 to 46,000 prisoners. Since then, the state has transferred about 9,000 state inmates to county jails. As a result, the total prison population is now about 32,000 more than the capacity limit set by the panel.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, speaking for the majority, said California's prisons had "fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements" because of overcrowding. As many as 200 prisoners may live in gymnasium, he said, and as many as 54 prisoners share a single toilet.

Kennedy insisted that the state had no choice but to release more prisoners. The justices, however, agreed that California officials should be given more time to make the needed reductions.

In dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia called the ruling "staggering" and "absurd."

He said the high court had repeatedly overruled the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for ordering the release of individual prisoners. Now, he said, the majority were ordering the release of "46,000 happy-go-lucky felons." He added that "terrible things are sure to happen as a consequence of this outrageous order." Justice Clarence Thomas agreed with him.

In a separate dissent, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the ruling conflicted with a federal law intended to limit the power of federal judges to order a release of prisoners.

State officials and lawyers for inmates differ over just how many prisoners will have to be released. In recent figures, the state said it had about 142,000 inmates behind bars, and the judges calculated the prison population would need to be reduced to about 110,000 to comply with constitutional standards.

Kennedy said the judges in California overseeing the prison-release order should "accord the state considerable latitude to find mechanisms and make plans" that are "consistent with the public safety."

The American Civil Liberties Union said the court had "done the right thing" by addressing the "egregious and extreme overcrowding in California's prisons."

David Fathi, director of the ACLU national prison project, said "reducing the number of people in prison not only would save the state taxpayers half a billion annually, it would lead to the implementation of truly rehabilitative programs that lower recidivism rates and create safer communities."

Meanwhile, the court took no action on another California case in which a conservative group is challenging the state's policy of granting in-state tuition at its colleges and universities to students who are illegal immigrants and have graduated from its high schools.

The justices said they would consider the appeal in a later private conference.

For years the medical and mental health care provided by California's prisons has fallen short of minimum constitutional requirements and has failed to meet prisoners' basic health needs," Kennedy said, noting that as many as 200 prisoners may live in a gym and as many as 54 prisoners share a single toilet. "Efforts to remedy the (medical and mental health) violation have been frustrated by severe overcrowding in California's prison system."

Justice Antonin Scalia took the unusual step of reading part of his dissent from the bench. He said the ruling would free thousands of convicted felons and it amounted to "perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation's history." He called the result of the order, "outrageous."

The U.S. State of California like many other states is reeling from the issues of overcrowded prisons and low funding to run the overpopulated jails.

As part of a reduction of Los Angeles' prison population ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court last week, other counties are likely to be asked to accept thousands of new inmates. Los Angeles, where one-third of the state's prisoners originate, could have to take up to 10,000 inmates.

Los Angeles' largest jail has a long history of overcrowding, unsanitary and unsafe conditions, and inadequate medical care for inmates. Many of the same criminal justice advocates who supported the lawsuit that led to the Supreme Court ruling are now warning that Los Angeles and other local jurisdictions are unprepared to deal with the aftermath of this landmark legal victory. New America Media


The Supreme Court ruling held that overcrowding in California's 33 prisons has caused conditions that amount to “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The decision, which upheld a 2009 ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, came in two consolidated class-action lawsuits dating back to 1990 that challenged the prison system's treatment of patients with mental illness and other medical conditions.

In response to the 2009 ruling, the state had already begun reducing its prison population (from nearly 162,500 in 2006 to around143,400 this past May), in part by sending 10,000 inmates out of state. But if the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) hopes to meet the court ordered goal -- prison population not to exceed 137.5 percent of capacity -- it must cut another 33,630 prisoners over the next two years.

In 2009, 47,000 state prison inmates were serving terms of 90 days or less.

But even with jails running at full capacity, counties still won't be able to accommodate all 30,000-plus inmates being cut from the state prison system. In Kern County, for instance, which sends approximately 4,600 inmates to state prisons a year, jails are currently operating at 87.6 percent capacity. But pushing capacity to 100 percent would only add 334 beds.

Other county jail systems are already over capacity, including San Diego (at 103.6 percent), the second-largest supplier of inmates to state prisons.

In order to house inmates locally, more jails will have to be built.

In 2009, 47,000 state prison inmates were serving terms of 90 days or less. New America Media

Currently, California has 9,816 inmates in out-of-state contract beds and 4,919 in in-state contract beds. Kalwnews

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that overcrowding in California's prison system, which houses just over 140,000 inmates but was built to accommodate only 80,000, constitutes cruel and unusual treatment and violates the Eighth Amendment. Huffington Post

The contentious ruling sparked investigations into the abysmal conditions of the state's 30 male prisons, including allegations of race-based discrimination. Huffington Post

But the reports and the Supreme Court ruling largely ignored the state's three female facilities, where former inmates and prison rights advocates say that 12,000 women live in grossly overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. These women must navigate a host of dangers, including insufficient medical care, sexual abuse by guards and increasing levels of violence between inmates. Huffington Post

Nearly 3,700 women live at Central California Women's Facility, putting it at more than 180 percent capacity. Eight women pack into cells built for four, sharing one bathroom and shower and each receiving a single locker, one-cubic-foot large, for their possessions. The rooms rarely have adequate ventilation and temperatures soar during the summer months. As in the men's prisons, the gymnasium has been converted into housing. Huffington Post


Eighteen states -- including Texas, Alaska and South Carolina -- explicitly supported California's bid for more leeway in reducing prison overcrowding. These states worry that they, too, might face court orders to release inmates. Miamiherald.com

The California dispute is the first high court case that reviewed a prisoner release order under a 1996 federal law that made it much harder for inmates to challenge prison conditions. newser.com

The case revolves around inadequate mental and physical health care in a state prison system that in 2009 averaged nearly a death a week that might have been prevented or delayed with better medical care. newser.com

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had been adamant about keeping prisoners in for their entire sentence. Abclocal.go.com

This is while the Drug Policy Alliance said California can easily release 40,000 non-violent offenders, arguing that many don't belong in prison because their crime was simple possession. Abclocal.go.com

The American Civil Liberties Union, reports the Times, praised the decision:

David Fathi, director of the ACLU national prison project, said "reducing the number of people in prison not only would save the state taxpayers half a billion annually, it would lead to the implementation of truly rehabilitative programs that lower recidivism rates and create safer communities."


Christy Walton tops the list for the third time. Walton is worth $26.5 billion. Walton is the widow of Walmart scion John Walton, who died in a plane crash near the couple’s Wyoming home in 2005, and hold the most wealth of the seven Walton relatives in this year’s rankings.

She is the daughter in law of Walmart Founder and Creater Sam Walton,she's listed as the world's richest woman according to Forbes Magazine.

Alice Walton,daughter of Sam Walton is third on the list of the world's richest women with an estimated net worth of $21.2 Billion.

Newsflash:::Oprah is not in the top 20 Richest Women In The World List but she's still one of the world's richest with an estimated fortune of 2.7 Billion according to Forbes Magazine.


An Interview with John Paul DeJoria, owner of Patrón Spirits and cofounder and CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems

John Paul DeJoria is one of the great stories of achieving the American Dream. Twenty years after being homeless, he was able to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. Along the way he built two iconic companies — John Paul Mitchell Systems and Patrón Spirits. Today, DeJoria has a personal net worth of over $4 billion, but perhaps his most significant contribution is his business philosophy, which is at the intersection of helping the world, helping people individually and creating profit — all with a genuine smile on his face. He’s definitely having fun. I recently sat down with DeJoria.

What was your childhood like?

We grew up in downtown LA, in the Echo Park area. We didn’t know that we were really going through tough times because everybody was going through the same thing. I remember once in junior high school, on a Friday, my mom came home from work and said to my brother and I, “You know, between us, we have only 27 cents, but we have food in the refrigerator, we have our little garden out back, and we’re happy, so we are rich.”

Talk about the initial visions behind Patrón Spirits and John Paul Mitchell Systems?

With John Paul Mitchell Systems, we wanted to sell only to hairdressers, but we wanted something different. We came up with a shampoo that required only one wash to save time and money, and a conditioner that you left in. This acted as a sculpting lotion for the hairdresser, protected against the heat of a blow dryer, and helped neutralize chemicals on hairdressers’ hands. We knew we wouldn’t do what other companies did; many said they would only be in the professional hairdressing industry, but went full retail when they got big. In fact, today, 31 years later, if you ever see a Paul Mitchell product in the drug store or supermarket, it’s counterfeit or black market. We stayed true to our word.

As for Patrón, we wanted to produce the smoothest tequila people had ever tried; tequila that didn’t get you really sick the next day; something you could sip. That was our vision: to have something that could one day be an ultimate premium tequila. People would treat themselves by having Patrón. Once people in every segment of society are turned on to Patrón, they become hooked, because Patrón is not only an ultra-premium, high-quality tequila, but also it’s one that’s made with a lot of love.

Very different business models. Are there similarities?

If you are involved with Patrón Spirits or Paul Mitchell Salon hair care products, you’ve got to love the product, you’ve got to love your customer, and you’ve got to love the planet: It’s our culture. We hire people with that attitude, because if you don’t love what you do, within three months, you could leave us. At John Paul Mitchell Systems — the older of the two [companies] — we’re 31 years old, and our turnover has been less than 30 people in 31 years!

By loving yourself, you’re going to be a happy person. A lot of people don’t like themselves for whatever reason. Being able to communicate with a loved one that you haven’t talked to in a while because of some communication break makes their life and your life in a much better place. Now you’re getting along, and people are in more harmony.

So the love helps us a lot because, no matter what you do — whether it’s shipping, manufacturing of products, or putting ingredients in — you always make sure you do it the best because you love who your customer is and what you stand for.

What’s your advice to entrepreneurs?

What I’d like to tell everybody is that there are two things. One, be prepared for a lot of rejection, people saying “no” to the service or the product you want to sell. People saying, “Oh, it’s too difficult. I don’t to do it.” If you knock on 100 doors and they all say “no,” on door 101, be just as enthusiastic.

The second thing is that the big difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people do all the things unsuccessful people don’t want to do. Whatever business you’re in, make sure the quality of your product is so good that people will want to reorder or do business with you again. This way you have sustainability, even though you may not have any money for advertising.

What is the role of the American Dream in society?

I see it as very powerful, and I believe it is important that people don’t forget about it. When I listen to the news, I wonder why they are telling people that we’re in the worst economy and society we’ve seen since the Great Depression. In 1980, when we started our company, everything was worse than it is today: Inflation was 12.5%, interest rates were 18% or more, unemployment was 10.5%, our hostages were still held in Iran, and you had to wait in line around the block to get gasoline. People need to realize that regardless of the economy, if you believe in yourself, your service and your product — and tell enough people about it — it will get picked up.

I was unfortunately homeless on two occasions, so when I started John Paul Mitchell systems in 1980, I lived in my car for the first two weeks. At that time I knew things were difficult, but I did believe that what we had was unique and different. A lot of people say 10% to 15% of the economy is off, but what about the 80% to 85% that isn’t?

John Paul DeJoria and Robert Reiss
Has wealth changed you?

Wealth has changed me in a big way, because I no longer go to bed at night and struggle to fall asleep, wondering if I have bills to pay.

Second of all, I can do a lot for people all around the world because of the wealth, and that makes me very, very happy. When we first started John Paul Mitchell Systems, I believed that we had to help inner-city youth. We started the Blazer House in Downtown LA, which became a neutral ground for the gangs, a place to go after school or receive tutoring. Today it’s on a much larger scale. But we believed in those days [that] we can change things, and we did. Whether it’s constructing houses in New Orleans, orphanages and nursing homes in Mexico, or other projects we’re doing on a global basis, we can change society. I think we — and all of our customers and staff — benefit more because we get to know we are doing something that’s making a change. We’re stepping forward with all people in helping their lives to become better. To sum it up: Success unshared is failure.

Special thanks to Allison Collins from Ridgefield High School for her editing insights.

Robert Reiss is Host of The CEO Show, which features leaders who have reinvented industry. The show is nationally syndicated by Business TalkRadio Network, with over 600,000 listeners a week. Click to hear podcasts of this and other CEO Interviews at www.ceoshow.com.



Elmer Geronimo "Ji Jaga" Pratt, the former Black Panther Party leader who was released from prison in 1997 after serving 27 years for a murder conviction that was later overturned, died of natural causes June 2 in a small village in Tanzania where he has lived part time for many years. He was 63.

Pratt's death may have been brought on by a bout of malaria, which worked against his existing high blood pressure, his close friend and longtime attorney Stuart Hanlon said Friday by phone from his office in San Francisco.

Hanlon was informed of Pratt's death by friends of the former Panther who were with him at his home in Tanzania, an East African country bordered by Kenya and Uganda.

Pratt was convicted in 1972 in connection with the 1970 robbery and slaying of schoolteacher Caroline Olsen, 27, in Santa Monica. Pratt maintained he was in Oakland at a Black Panther Party meeting when the shooting occurred and that FBI agents and police hid and possibly destroyed wiretap evidence that would prove it.

His lawyers, which included now-deceased defense attorney Johnnie Cochran, blamed his arrest on the politically motivated COINTELPRO campaign by J. Edgar Hoover's FBI against the Black Panthers and other perceived enemies of the U.S. government.

The break Pratt's case needed came with the disclosure that a key prosecution witness hid the fact he was an ex-felon and police informant.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Everett Dickey


granted Pratt a new trial in June 1997, saying the credibility of prosecution witness Julius Butler -- who testified that Pratt had confessed to him -- could have been undermined if the jury had known of his relationship with law enforcement. Pratt was freed later that month.

After his release from Mule Creek State Prison in Amador County, a federal judge later approved a $4.5 million settlement in Pratt's false-imprisonment and civil rights lawsuit.

During his lengthy incarceration, Pratt became a symbol of the turbulent 1960s, and he gained the support of activists and politicians including former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, then-Rep. Ron Dellums (D-Oakland), the NAACP, Amnesty International and many others.

"What happened to him is the horror story of the United States," Hanlon said Friday. "This became a microcosm of when the government decides what's politically right or wrong. The COINTELPRO program was awful. He became a symbol for what they did."

Pratt was born Sept. 13, 1947, in Morgan City, La., a small town about two hours from New Orleans. The youngest of seven children, Pratt was raised as a Roman Catholic by his mother and his father, who operated a small scrap-metal business.

"He had Southern, rural roots, hardworking parents who sent all of their kids to college," Hanlon said. "He goes to the military, fights and is a decorated soldier in Vietnam, comes back, becomes a football star in college.

"That would be an American hero," Hanlon said of Pratt's life up to that point. "It was different because he was black and he became a Panther and then the road went the wrong way."

Hanlon said Pratt had been spending half his time in the small Tanzanian village of Imbaseni and the other half in Louisiana. When asked why he chose to spend so much of his time on another continent, Hanlon said, "I think he felt he had tasted the worst America could give and it wasn't very good."

Hanlon described Pratt as "one of my two or three closest friends in the world." And that his case "defined me as a lawyer."

David Hilliard, former Black Panther Party chief of staff who recruited Pratt into the party to help provide leadership to the Los Angeles chapter, said there are former Panther exiles still in Tanzania, and that Pratt likely felt comfortable there. He had helped to get an irrigation system installed in the village he adopted as his part-time home.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) at the time of his imprisonment was in the state Legislature. She said she remembers using her position as the chairwoman of the state's Black Caucus as a way to bring Pratt's case to greater prominence. She said much can be derived from a man who held his head high despite the injustices he endured.

"I'm really sad," Lee said when reached by phone. "This is a tremendous loss. His life was about seeking justice for those who had no justice. All the work that was done, by many, that ultimately proved he was unjustly incarcerated, he finally achieved the justice for himself that he so deserved."

Lee said she sees troubling similarities with the forces at work during the COINTELPRO era and now, and said the nation should look to Pratt's legacy with caution and concern.

While the government must have the tools in place to protect the nation's security, Lee said -- referencing the Patriot Act that provides broad powers to authorities for gathering information on potential threats -- there must be a balance with civil liberties.

"We have to be vigilant now and very concerned about unwarranted government intrusion. We don't want us to go back there."

Hilliard said Pratt "symbolized the best of human spirit. His spirit of endurance, his strength, his service to his people. He's very positive and a real example for young people who want to look into the direction of Che Guevara, Malcolm X and the leader of our party, Huey P. Newton. He is one of the true heroes of our era. He dedicated his life to service of his people. There is nothing more honorable than that."

The Associated Press and Los Angeles Times contributed to this report.

Elmer G. "Geronimo" Pratt, a former Los Angeles Black Panther Party leader who spent 27 years in prison for a murder he says he did not commit and whose case became a symbol of racial injustice during the turbulent 1960s, has died. He was 63.

Pratt died at his home in a small village in Tanzania, where he had been living with his wife and child, according to Stuart Hanlon, a San Francisco attorney who helped overturn Pratt's murder conviction. Hanlon said he was informed of the death by Pratt's sister.

Pratt's case became a cause celebre for elected officials, Amnesty International, clergy and celebrities who believed he was framed by the government because he was African American and a member of the Black Panthers.

"Geronimo was a powerful leader," Hanlon told The Times. "For that reason he was targeted."

Pratt was convicted in 1972 and sentenced to life in prison for the 1968 fatal shooting of Caroline Olsen and the serious wounding of her husband, Kenneth, in a robbery that netted $18. The case was overturned in 1997 by an Orange County Superior Court judge who ruled that prosecutors at Pratt's murder trial had concealed evidence that could have led to his acquittal.

Pratt maintained that the FBI knew he was innocent because the agency had him under surveillance in Oakland when the murder was committed in Santa Monica.

Geronimo Pratt, the former head of the of the Black Panthers’ Southland chapter, died Thursday. He was 63. Most people who knew Pratt’s name recall that he was the target of an FBI program during the early 1970s that landed him in prison for more than a quarter-century for a crime he did not commit.

The program was dubbed COINTELPRO — an acronym for an FBI counter intelligence program that secretly monitored African Americans, Latinos, socialists and any group with a remotely left-of-center political ideology in the 1960s and 1970s.

The program also often sought to “neutralize” those groups, in the words of former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who also said he sometimes coordinated his activities with local law enforcement agencies like the LAPD and L.A. County District Attorneys office.

In 1972, the agency used a secret informant to help convict Pratt of a Santa Monica murder he did not commit. The case attracted national attention at the time, and later it became a cause celebre for progressives and human rights groups like Amnesty International.

CBS News revisited the case years later as evidence of law enforcement misconduct surfaced.

“For more than a quarter century, Black Panther member Geronimo Pratt said he was the victim of an FBI setup. He was convicted of a murder he insisted he did not commit," anchor Dan Rather told a national audience. "A year ago, CBS News turned up evidence the key prosecution witness was a police informant, something the jury was never told.”

The jury was also never told that the husband of the woman who was murdered initially identified someone else as her killer.

In 1997, a conservative Orange County judge appointed by President Reagan overturned Pratt’s conviction and ordered him freed from prison.

UCLA’s Center for African American Studies Director Darnell Hunt said the case is important.

“I think Geronimo Pratt is a figure who will be forever thought of in the context of black nationalist movements and attempts by the state to squash those movements," he said.

Pratt, who was born Elmer Pratt, was a Louisiana native and decorated Vietnam War veteran who served in the Army’s 82nd Airborne unit.

But when he returned home and entered UCLA, persistent racial injustices prompted him to join the Black Panther Party. Its platform included militant rhetoric and neighborhood service, including free meals to schoolchildren.

When Los Angeles prosecutors charged him with murder, a court-appointed defense attorney named Johnnie Cochran represented Pratt. For the man who would later represent O.J. Simpson, Pratt’s case represented a key moment.

“That experience made me a much better lawyer. It made me question the official view," Cochran, who died in 2005, had said. "This was the most important case of my life and the day that Geronimo Pratt was released from custody was the most important and satisfying victory of my whole life.”

After he lived for a few years in the United States, Pratt, his wife and child moved to Tanzania, where he worked with young people. In a radio interview with Tavis Smiley, he spoke about his imprisonment.

“I was not kept in prison because of the murder. They knew I did not do the murder," he said."I was kept in prison because of my convictions and dedication to the liberation of our people.”

UCLA history Professor Mark Sawyer met Pratt on several occasions after his release. He recalls a man who remained philosophical about his imprisonment.

Sawyer regards his death as a reminder of what can happen when government doesn’t keep close reigns on its law enforcement agencies; he sees parallels today with concerns about terrorism and the Patriot Act.

“Geronimo Pratt should stand as a warning for us about police organizations that were operating as essentially secret police outside of public scrutiny," he said.