“I wasn’t mad until the world forgot about me…”
One’s a golfer, still wealthier than 99.9% of rappers can begin to fathom. The other’s an immensely idolized, immensely scrutinized and currently incarcerated regional icon from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who just so happened to beat a murder charge in the process. One makes a living playing on greens, the other never once hid his affinity of a plant that is green.
About the only surface similarity Tiger and Boosie share is their love of women, sex and sex with copious amounts of women. Scratch beyond the surface and therein lies a second, and more eerie connection.
Their lives, the direction of their respective crafts and pop culture as a whole tooks sharp turns for the unknown in November 2009. That’s when news first broke via a forthcoming story in the National Enquirer Tiger had been unfaithful to his wife in an elaborate sex rumor. Only two weeks earlier, Lil Boosie reported to prison to begin a two-year sentence for a probation violation and third marijuana possession offense (and later a prolonged sentence for attempting to smuggle narcotics in prison).
The Tiger Woods sex scandal grew – no pun intended – legs of its own hours later and evolved to become arguably the single most covered, dissected and infamous sports story since the OJ Simpson trail (only Sandusky/Penn State and Michael Vick come to mind on a grand scale). From the voicemails, the alleged salacious extremes with 121 reported mistresses, the good will ambassadorship he fostered for well over a decade through golf immediately depleted, the fleeing sponsorships, the “most dominant and intimidating athlete since Jordan” label shredded, his marriage flatlined, the divorce to the eye-popping $110 million divorce settlement, Tiger hit P.R. purgatory and involuntarily spawned himself into a walking punchline and verb in the process.
Celebrities of Tiger’s stature nosediving from glory is anything but rare. It’s America. Entertainment scandals happen to be one of this country’s greatest natural resources and exports. But only the rarest of the most famous had done so in such a public arena.
As for Boosie, what originated as sentence with a release date turned into one with the potential to leave him stranded on death row. Nevertheless, a not guilty murder verdict in 2012 ensured Bad Azz would one day leave Louisiana State Penitentiary’s intimidating walls in his rearview, perhaps as early as next month.
Time locked down kidnapped Boosie from openly penning thoughts on jeopardized relationships to those closest to him. Like B.G., now the owner of his own 14-year stretch and his Trill Entertainment cohort Lil Phat, the victim of a 2012 homicide outside an Atlanta hospital where his fiancé was due to give birth. Sans an occasional unreleased record managing to scurry its way on to the Internet and random rodeo and cell phone photos, Boosie’s urban myths and overall mysteriousness presently rival him with only the Loch Ness Monster.
Tiger has gone on to regain some level of control over his career. He’s long-since returned to golf. Sponsorships, like clockwork, crawled back to cash in on his marketable name and persona. Yet in the ilk of his brother-in-controversy-in-a-parrallel-universe Boosie, the past five years have left a question growing more pertinent with each missed birdie opportunity at the U.S. Open or rumored release date.
Can or will Tiger Woods and Lil Boosie regain their respective professional dominance?
The beauty in a new year for many people is the mental cleansing aspect; an opportunity to paint their life’s Mona Lisa with the luxury of a blank canvas. For Tiger, the chance to build on a successful 2013 – a year producing a Jack Nickalus Award given to the player of the year – is a blessing. He captured five victories, the tenth time he’s done so in an already-iconic catalog, leaving him three away from Sam Snead’s all-time record of 82.
Conversely, as has been the case throughout his career, often times through his own obsession, a major championship is what matters personally and to the legions of fans he helped introduce to the game. Golf needs his trademark, emphatic first pump the same way David Stern needed Michael Jordan waving his tongue while he soared for dunks. Golf needs Tiger roaring ahead with the bravado of yesteryear. Golf needs Tiger on Sunday at the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and/or PGA Championship with a chance to do what hasn’t since George W. Bush was President – win.
That’s because one of the worst kept secrets in sports is professional golf’s dependency on “the Tiger Woods effect.”
“Looking back from the beginning of my career to now, I know that I don’t have 20 years in my prime,” Woods said in a Wednesday press conference. “But the outlook is still the same. I still prepare the same, I still work my tail off to be ready to compete at this level and beat everything that I’m playing against.”
Mortality in the grand scheme of life is a morbid topic. Relegating mortality to one’s professional calling, in many ways, is more sobering. What’s known is Lil Boosie stands to craft arguably the most anticipated return to Hip-Hop upon being released from prison since Tupac Shakur in 1995. Rap, however, has changed dramatically in the three decades since Pac’s “Thug Life” mantra was its most infamous calling card. The 24/7 cesspool often referred to as the Internet has revolutionized the genre and desensitized it almost concurrently.
At his peak, Boosie’s graphic novels disguised as albums and mixtapes were enough to make 50 Shades of Grey and Steven King projects appear made-for-Disney. Almost a half-decade removed from a legit sample size, the questions surrounding Bad Azz are only superseded by the frenzy to turn “Free Boosie” into a tangible chant.
Will the music possess the familiar and soothing bite his fans remember? Will they even admit so if it is? Can he and Webbie do the impossible and not miss a step? Will Boosie’s patented voice still be patented and not horrifically reconfigured a la Shyne’s? Are we already expected too much from a man yet to take a legit shower or devour a home cooked meal since year one into President Obama’s first term?
Questions are nerve-racking until given some sense of closure.
For Tiger Woods fans, Lil Boosie fans and the select number standing behind both, their agonizing waits could be nearing its conclusion. “It’s is a minor setback for a major comeback,” the rapper noted years back.
Maybe, juuuuuussssst maybe, he was on to something.