Lynden Trail's Scandalous MySpace Photo Gets Some Context

Lynden TrailLast week, photos that Florida recruits Leon Orr and Lynden Trail posted on their respective MySpace page got some added exposure when blogs highlighted poses they struck that suggested to some that the players engaged in extralegal activity. Orr was pictured crouched while holding a gun and handful of cash, while Trail was photographed wearing a bandana over his face while flashing the camera a hand gesture that struck a few writers as a possible gang sign.

When questioned about the pictures, Orr claimed the gun was actually a pellet gun and Trail said he was only playing around in the photo and that the hand gesture was only meant to represent his neighborhood. Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples decided to do a little more digging.

⇥⇥The picture's caption, however, made reference to something called the⇥Swamp City Bird Gang, and photos on the MySpace pages of other young⇥men who referenced the Swamp City Bird Gang also included the same hand⇥gesture and a similar bandana, known in gang parlance as a "flag."  Not⇥being an expert on the gangs of Florida's Dade County, I consulted the⇥Miami-Dade police department to determine if the group is actually a⇥gang or some kids playing dress-up. Tuesday, public information officer⇥Kenia Reyes called back and said that a member of the department's gang⇥unit confirmed that a known gang in Overtown does use that name.
Staples confronted Trail with this new revelation and received a quick primer in growing up in Overtown.
⇥⇥Trail said that when the photo was taken several years ago, he⇥was "what you'd call a wannabe." He said he never carried a gun or⇥committed crimes. ⇥According to a search on the Web site of the Miami-Dade clerk’s office, Trail has no criminal record in Dade County. He⇥also said that if a young man in his neighborhood doesn't align himself⇥with one group or another, he opens himself up to danger. He spoke of⇥times when he had guns pointed in his face, and his knowledge of⇥particular gang members kept him from getting shot.⇥⇥⇥

⇥⇥"They say you have two choices," he said. "It's either get down⇥or lay down." "Get down" means align yourself with a group. "Lay down"⇥means get killed. Trail said he wants to succeed in college so he can⇥escape his neighborhood, so he never has to worry about making that⇥choice again.⇥⇥⇥

Whether or not Trail's story is entirely accurate may or may not be true, but he certainly could have helped himself by being more forthcoming from the start. Granted, his experience growing up is not what the majority of people have to go through, but there's a big difference between a gesture meant to symbolize a neighborhood and a sign for one of that neighborhood's gangs.

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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