Rams team up with local rapper for music video that supports a good cause
A crew of nearly 20 people tilted their cameras toward four old school beige Cadillacs as a man danced in the middle of the street to the song he wrote.
It was a windy Monday night, and a production crew outside the Forum was filming rapper Stix. The Watts-raised community activist had donned a royal blue No. 20 Jalen Ramsey jersey for a music video addressing social inequality.
The Rams partnered with Stix to produce the video, which will premier Sunday during the Rams’ annual charity dinner. The rapper also penned a public service announcement that Rams players will read and will be released ahead of the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys at SoFi Stadium.
After a summer of intense protests and racial unrest, the Rams are exploring new avenues to support historically underserved populations.
SoFi Stadium, the NFL’s crown jewel, was the the culmination of Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s vision and the NFL’s desire to return to the L.A. market.
“Everyone is always quick to make a statement,” said Molly Higgins, the Rams’ vice-president of community affairs. “But for us at the Rams, we’re trying to be about action. It’s going to take sustained commitment.”
The Rams have hosted a charity dinner at a downtown Los Angeles hotel annually since 2016. Because of the coronavirus outbreak, they’ve shifted this year’s event to a virtual format. Coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff are among the scheduled speakers. The Rams said proceeds will go toward bridging the digital education divide.
Stix had heard of Higgins through word of mouth about the Watts Rams, the youth football league team the Rams sponsor. They eventually met, and he contributed to a motivational video for the youth team.
“If there is anything going on in Watts that is positive and I don’t know them, I get upset,” Stix said, laughing.
Though it has seen improvement since the historic riots in 1965, Watts ranks as the 13th most violent neighborhood in Los Angeles per capita, according to a Times analysis of crime reports.
“The Rams are very aggressive when it comes to giving back,” Stix said. “They took a Pop Warner team in Watts and named it after them. That aggressiveness makes a difference, and they are doing good things in the community that I come from.”
Since the May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, many professional sports endorsed the Black Lives Matter movement. Last month’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., spurred players in major sports to force the postponement of games and events.
Higgins said she has seen a lot of anger, hurt and frustration from Rams players. She is trying to channel it into productive causes. This week, Higgins and Jacques McClendon, the Rams’ director of player engagement, surveyed players to ask which areas of social justice most interested them.
The consensus: educational issues. So Higgins is researching impactful outreach options.
Two potential avenues, she said, are establishing a Boys & Girls Club in Inglewood and adopting a school in the Inglewood Unified School District.The players, she said, also want to meet with Los Angeles Police Department officials to hear their perspectives.
“We’ve been doing the work, but I think everyone has the appetite now to take on and do even more,” Higgins said. “And I have definitely been seeing players raising their hands asking, ‘How can we help? What can we do?’ ”
Several Rams players told reporters last week that they want to take action.
“We’re having these uncomfortable conversations, the next steps are to come together and figure this out together,” cornerback Troy Hill said. “We got to keep taking these steps day by day and when we come to that solution, we got to all buy in.”
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