Luther Campbell has gone from Uncle Luke to Coach Luke.
The one-time raunchy rapper and leader of Miami’s 2 Live Crew is now an assistant football coach at Miami Central High School, where he instructs linebackers, and in his home neighborhood of Liberty City, where he coaches boys in the Optimist league he founded.
Once celebrated and loathed for his sexually explicit lyrics, Campbell, nearly 50, is now a mentor to inner city kids.
“I’m happy and proud of what we accomplished but that part of my life is over,” he tells the Miami Herald’s Linda Robertson. “The entertainer – I left him on stage.”
Read an excerpt of Robertson’s article below…
Campbell used to be surrounded by gyrating dancers, whom 2 Live Crew referred to as “bitches” and “whores.” The thongs are gone. The act, a raunchy parody that too many “uptight” people misinterpreted, Campbell says, is history. The porn tapes he sold – a mistake.
Now he gathers his players around him in a huddle to talk football and dispense advice. Seventy percent of his players are being raised by a single mother or grandmother. Each one is the man of the house.
“I don’t tolerate cursing or the N word,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Don’t ever disrespect a girl because that makes you less than a man.’ And ‘Pick the girl who is responsible, not the one with Fs on her report card. Easy to get in, hard to get out. I’ve lived that life.’”
Is it possible to change from Rated X to exemplar? Campbell swears he has reformed.
“Football players got the same rep I got – you think your stuff don’t stink, you’re the arrogant, spoiled star,” he said. “I tell them, ‘Be nice to your teachers. Sit in the front row. Keep your grades up.’”
It’s working. Players greet a sideline visitor with, “Hello, ma’am,” or “How you doing today?”
Campbell’s linebackers weren’t even born in 1990 when a local judge declared 2 Live Crew’s third album obscene because it appealed “to dirty thoughts and loins, not to the intellect and the mind,” and Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro arrested the group after they performed at Hollywood’s Club Futura. Tipper Gore and Al Sharpton were repulsed by the songs. Campbell put himself at the center of a national free speech debate. Today, his players learn about his landmark 1992 U.S. Supreme Court victory in civics class.
Campbell’s rap artist persona only comes out for special events, such as June’s VH1 Hip Hop Honors show, when he sang with Pitbull and Trick Daddy and was recognized for developing Southern rap as a record producer.