Lacy Westbrook, a 6'5", 300-pound offensive lineman who has committed to UCLA, lives in a neighborhood rife with gangs and violence, but he has been able to avoid trouble. "Lacy goes to church and Sunday school every week," says his mother, Stephanie, "so he's spiritually based. His coaches are the same kind of men. And I'm not a dump-off mom. I'm involved with Lacy every step of the way, including his football."
The Dominguez players all say their biggest fear is their environment. "Basically, from Thursday to Saturday night I don't go anywhere unless it's to a USC game or church," says defensive back Lavell Sanders. "The rest of the time I'm either at practice or working out or staying inside.
"We all have friends who gang-bang," adds Sanders. "Football is a big outlet. It separates you. You easily could make the wrong decision and be in the streets."
When asked to explain the toughest part of being a teenager in Compton, Beaver doesn't hesitate. "Growing up with the right people," he says. "All my friends have tattoos all over their neck and face. They are in jail. They smoke." When a visitor notes that none of the four players being interviewed has any visible tattoos, they all smile. Beaver's answer sums up the challenge of surviving in a world rife with gangs and violence. "It's easy to be like everyone else," he says. "Being different is hard."