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The Undefeated Champions of Defeat City

A Little League is helping transform a city plagued by drugs, addiction and violence:

For Bryan, baseball is a multipurpose tool: It can unify the neighborhood, and it pits the diamond against the corner. Since the dealers recruit kids at about the same age as the coaches do, Bryan's in a tug-of-war for the souls of these 12-year-olds, some of whose parents are out there slinging, too. "Look," Bryan says, "we can all agree on children, you know? That they should be free to be kids. And if Dad or Mom is at a game for a few hours a week, they're not hustling. They're at a game."

Bryan's philosophy in a nutshell: Don't let circumstances dictate your behavior. Reverse that dynamic. Fill the parks with kids and families and eventually the junkies and the dealers will drift away. Pretend that you live in a safe place and maybe it will become one.

PUBLISHED: May 13, 2014
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6333 words)

Raider. QB Crusher. Murderer?

[Not single-page] Anthony Wayne Smith, a former defensive end for the L.A./Oakland Raiders, has been linked to the murders of four men:

"Soon after retiring from football, Anthony invested in at least one shady business—an online medical-billing scam that was later investigated by the FTC—and started spending more and more time with gangbangers and thugs. 'He was bringing the edge around, and I didn't like it,' Bryan says. When he asked Anthony why, Anthony told him, 'These guys care about me. They're genuine dudes.'

"'I couldn't understand it,' Bryan says. 'You're married to a lawyer. You're living in Playa del Rey. Why would you be involved with these kinds of people?' He began to back away, unhappily, because he felt like now he was abandoning Anthony, too. Dwayne Simon didn't like Anthony's new friends, either. 'That's when I stopped hanging around,' he says. 'That's when he started to change. He got that scowl, that ugly look.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 25, 2013
LENGTH: 31 minutes (7904 words)

The Whole True Story of the Dougherty Gang

Three siblings—the two brothers, carpenters, and the sister, a stripper—rob a bank and lead police on a 15-state chase. But what motivated them to do it?

"PASCO SIBLINGS SOUGHT IN SHOOTING ALSO WANTED IN GEORGIA BANK HEIST. By the evening of August 4, the FBI had issued a press release stating that the three Georgia bank robbers and the three Zephyrhills shooters were one and the same. The image of a gun-toting, bank-robbing trio of siblings hit reporters like a shot of Jack Daniel's; it was exhilarating; it was old-school. DOUGHERTY GANG ON THE LAM! Lee-Grace made the biggest splash. "A gun-toting stripper—what's not to like?" asked one commenter. A series of X-rated photographs she had taken for some guys who ran an illegitimate poker club where she gave lap dances later found their way into the public domain, most likely with a price tag."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 10, 2012
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7475 words)

The Girl from Trails End

In a small, rough-edged town not far from Houston, nineteen men and boys await trial for unspeakable acts—the repeated gang rape of an 11-year-old girl. Good god, you think: How could so many men treat a child so brutally? And how could so many people leap to their defense? "Seven of the adults had criminal records or charges pending. ... The weight of their individual experiences—sexually, criminally, even their high school education and their work experience, fatherhood, lives already on the skid or in frustrating limbo—all of this put these men years and years ahead of a sixth grader. Compared to her, they had a terrible gravity."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 6, 2011
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6657 words)

Tiny Little Laws

[National Magazine Awards finalist, Public Interest] An investigation of rampant sexual violence that goes unpunished at a Sioux reservation:

"Kim reported the rape, and Mike was arrested and jailed. As soon as she returned to the reservation, his family began threatening her, calling her a liar and a bitch. Whenever they saw her on the street, they told her they would beat her up and make sure her son was taken away from her if she didn’t drop the charges. Kim believed they could do it, since some of Mike’s family members worked in the tribal court. 'I was getting threats right and left, and I wasn’t scared. I was going to go through with it—they had him in jail, and it was all going to work out. But then they let him out,' Kim said. 'Nobody would do anything. He just walked around town.'"
PUBLISHED: Feb. 1, 2011
LENGTH: 32 minutes (8136 words)