As a parent it is probably unfathomable to think that your child could become part of a gang at the age of 11 (or ever, for that matter). However, it’s something that’s all too common in many neighborhoods across the country where gangs are prevalent and the idea of protection and power in numbers is too much for many kids to ignore. That’s what happened to Vanna Fut (known as Big Lazy on the California streets) when he was 11. A refugee from Cambodia, he fell into the wrong crowd at the age of 11 until he managed to break his way out of the gang lifestyle through break dancing.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Fut. He’s the subject of “Raskal Love,” a film playing at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival. The story depicts Fut’s life as a gang-member turned world-class break dancer as it unfolds with plenty of drama and heart-stopping moments. The Tiny Raskal Gang initiated Fut at a young age, but Fut was lucky enough to discover break dancing during his teenage years. Watching other dancers on the streets outside his Pomona, California windows, he learned the art on his own, taking punishment and ribbing from his friends and fellow gang members.
It wasn’t long before Fut became a part of the Massive Monkees, a break dancing group that would win the World B-Boy Break Dancing Championships in London in 2004, saving him from a life of drugs, violence and gangs.
Today, Fut uses his fame to counsel the boys who are part of the Tiny Raskal Gang and to help encourage kids and teens in gang-laden neighborhoods to think twice about joining a gang. Fut also makes it a point to tell kids that doing drugs is a waste of their time and talents. Instead, he promotes doing something that interests them, whether it’s break dancing, the arts or whatever else it is that a particular child feels a talent for.
Don’t be fooled; though it might sound like Fut’s transition from gang life to break dancer was a piece of cake, it was not. Once you become part of a gang, it’s not that simple to remove yourself from the life, which is one of the lessons that Fut makes it a point to use his fame to teach. He’s an inspiration to every kid growing up in a neighborhood that might not be surrounded with the safest activities.
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