"Freeway" Ricky Ross is an American former drug trafficker and convicted criminal from Los Angeles, California. He is best known as the central figure in the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic and was dubbed the "King of Crack" by the press.
Ross was born in 1960 in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. He attended Locke High School, where he was a standout baseball player and had aspirations of playing professionally. However, his career in sports ended when he was expelled from school for carrying a gun.
Ross then began selling drugs as a way to make money, starting with marijuana and then moving up to crack cocaine. He became one of the most successful drug traffickers in Los Angeles in the 1980s, amassing a fortune estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
Ross was arrested in 1996 on federal drug trafficking charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. While in prison, he became an advocate for prison reform and wrote several books, including his autobiography, Freeway Rick: The Untold Story of America's Most Notorious Drug Lord.
Ross was released in 2009 after serving 13 years in prison. Since his release, he has become an anti-drug advocate and has spoken out against the War on Drugs, saying that it has been ineffective and has caused more harm than good.
Ross has also been active in the music industry, launching his own record label and producing several albums. He has also founded a non-profit organization, the Freeway Ricky Foundation, which provides programs designed to assist at-risk youth in the inner city.
Today, Ross is an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform and has been featured in numerous media outlets, including the New Yorker, the New York Times, and The Guardian. He is still living in Los Angeles and continues to speak out against the War on Drugs.