Most of you may not hear the name Marcus and think of a young man wrongfully convicted in Rome, GA and had 15 months of his life taken away due to him being sent to prison. Oh, but you better believe Diva Dee does.
It seems like just yesterday, Georgia news was constantly reminding us how a football star and high school senior by the name of Marcus Dixon can go from being highly praised to publicly tormented overnight.
In 2003, Marcus became the victim of a Georgia law that was initially intended to protect adolescent children of sexual predators. The 18-year-old senior was sentenced to 10 years without parole for having consensual sex with a 15-year-old white classmate causing some folks to praise his conviction while others angrily disputed it publicly.
Although Marcus was being raised by a white family that had adopted him years earlier, the charges and conviction racially divided the small town of Rome, GA as well as the family members of Marcus’ adoptive parents. Fortunately for Marcus, Bryan Gumbel-host of HBO’s Real Sports-caught wind of his story and contributed greatly in his early release.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the original case courtesy of CBS:
Dixon, who was 18, was accused by a 15-year-old classmate of raping her after school in February 2003. The jury later determined that the sex was consensual, but convicted Dixon on the other charges under Georgia’s Child Protection Act. Dixon lost a scholarship to Vanderbilt and claimed he was targeted by prosecutors because he is black and the girl was white.
HBO’s “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel produced a segment on Dixon’s story a few months after the conviction. Shortly after it aired, the Supreme Court of Georgia overturned it on an appeal, and Dixon was released from prison the same day. Gumbel recently caught up with him for the latest episode that aired Tuesday night.
In an interview posted to HBO.com, Gumbel was asked to name his most professionally rewarding piece.
“Without question: the Marcus Dixon story,” he answered. “It helped free a young man and give him a second chance at life.”
“I know some people will be happy for me, but some people will be like, ‘What’s he doing in the league?’” Dixon said. “Mixed emotions. So, I’ll probably only watch it if my parents tell me, ‘OK, it was good.’ But, I won’t be up watching it.
“I don’t even want to see it. It’s going to bring back old memories.”
Fast forward to 2011, Marcus Dixon is now a Hampton University grad who excelled academically and athletically. He is officially enjoying life as a NFL Player on a promising New York Jets’ team. He is also surrounded by notable NFL players such as Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, LaDainian Tomlinson and Plaxico Burress–a long way from a dark jail cell where he didn’t know whether it was day or night. Even though Marcus has to write convicted felon on any job application he fills out and lost a scholarship to Vanderbilt in the process of his journey, he has to be thanking a higher power that his initial 10-year sentence was reduced to 15 months. At the very least, he should be thanking Bryant Gumbel!
Food for Thought: The irony in this entire case is the Georgia law Dixon was convicted under was initiated by a black man.