Nearly two years after being released from prison, notorious ’80s cocaine dealer Freeway Ricky, aka The Real Rick Ross, has found peace with the choices he made on the streets of Los Angeles as a 19-year-old teen. Still, when he found himself trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cent after completing his 20 year sentence, the kingpin realized leaving the drug game would be a lot harder than he anticipated.
Freeway, born Ricky Donnell Ross, was considered an infamous drug lord by the time he hit the age of 25. And, at the end of his illegal career — when he was convicted to a later-reduced life sentence in 1995 after allegedly being set up by his business partner, Oscar Blandon, and charged with trying to purchase more than 100 kilograms of cocaine from a federal agent — Ricky was worth an estimated $600 million.
Now a free man, the dealer that once ran the streets is running to the courts with a lawsuit against Rick Ross, the rapper, for using and benefiting from his name without his permission. “I knew he wasn’t a real drug dealer because no real drug dealer would take another drug dealers name,” says Ricky matter-of-factly.
Here, Freeway Ricky talks about his suit against the bawse and plans to get his life together, the law-abiding way.—Amber McKynzie
It’s been almost two years since your release. What are you up to these days?
Freeway Ricky: Right now I’m doing a movie. I should be signing my producer later on today. I’m signing a guy by the name of David Zander. He’s the owner of MJZ Productions, the biggest TV commercial company in the world. I already have Nick Cassavetes signed on. He’s the guy that did Blow. He did Alpha Dog, he did The Notebook [and] he wrote and directed John Q. He wrote the script and he’s gonna direct it. [And] I’ve got about five people that we’re negotiating [with] about giving me [a] 40 million dollar budget.
What’s the movie about?
The movie’s gonna be about my life story. It’s gonna be a docu-drama – real, but dramatized.
How long has this film been in the works?
I’ve really been working on it since ’92 or ’93. But it’s really picked up speed over the past couple years. We’re thinking we’ll have it ready in 18 months.
Do you have a title already?
Right now it’s titled The Untitled Rick Ross Story, [but] that’s just a working title. Once we get finished, I’ll let the people who give movies names name it. That’s not my expertise.
What else do you have in the works?
We’re also doing a documentary right now. [It] is gonna be on me, too. We should have that ready in six months. I’m doing it with a guy named Marc Levin. He’s a world-renowned documentary [maker]. I got all good people on my team. I’m messing with the best!
Sounds like it. Let’s go back to what got you to this point. How did you get into the drug game?
One of my friends had came to me and he said he had this great idea. He was like a big brother to me, someone I looked up to, somebody I trusted. He introduced me to it. When I got into it, I had the intention of making $5,000 [and quitting right after]. It came so easy that I couldn’t quit.
How old were you when you first started selling cocaine?
I was probably like 19, ’bout to turn 20.
And how did you meet Oscar Blandon?
We were pretty tight. I stayed at his house when I would go to Miami to visit. I thought we were tighter than we were, [but] we weren’t as tight as I thought. But we were pretty tight, I felt.
It’s no secret that Blandon set you up. When and how did you learn that it was him?
I knew pretty much the day I got arrested that he was the one that set me up, but I didn’t wanna believe that. It became apparent after Gary Webb had gotten in contact with me. You know, it was hard for me to believe that he set me up, even after I knew he had. You don’t wanna believe that a friend betrayed you.
So you found out before you got arrested?
I wasn’t tipped off until after I got arrested.
You said you were in it to make $5,000, but you clearly made a lot more. Almost three million a day was reported at one point. What were you doing with the money?
I started investing it. I gave a lot of people jobs. I gave back to the community a lot. It was many a time that I was going places and say, ‘you know what? They just repo’d my car, so and so’s in jail [and] they need bail.’ I took care of it.
During an interview with Dateline you said it (the business) wasn’t about you then. Did the detrimental effects of your business on the community ever cross your mind?
I was planning on using cocaine to give me a jumpstart in life because I couldn’t get a jumpstart. It seemed that every store I went to nobody would give me a job, nobody believed in me – so I was just gon’ use cocaine as a jumpstart. I never planned on staying in the drug game. I wasn’t really fond of the drug game from the beginning. I always planned on getting out, but it came a time that after I was in it I started to see the effects that it was having on different people. I started to see myself as a hypocrite. I would say, ‘I don’t want you selling to my people.’ But I was selling to everybody’s people. So when that time came, I started to rethink my path. That’s what eventually got me to quit.
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