Kitam Hamm: Breaking The Cycle Of Violence In Compton, Calif.

Download Audio

Kitam Hamm is a talented 5-foot-9, 170-pound high school running back and safety with a GPA of about 3.8. He's currently being recruited by some of the top universities in the country, including Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia.

Kitam Hamm also attends Compton High School, situated in one of the most gang-infested areas in America. In the current issue of Sports Illustrated, an article entitled "Straight Outta Compton" chronicles the difficulties Kitam faces on a daily basis in a neighborhod characterized by gang violence.

This week on Only A Game, Bill Littlefield is joined by Kitam and his father, Kitam, Sr., as well as Jeff Benedict, co-author of the  article, which is part of a collaboration with CBS Sports.

Kitam, Sr. was a member of a gang himself, and has been warning his son against gang banging since he was very young.

"It started in elementary school," Kitam remembers.

Kitam's parents have done their best to shelter their son from the violence and to allow him to be successful in school and on the football field. It's not an easy job. When Kitam, Jr. was just 12 years old his father protected him from a near-shooting on a neighborhood basketball court.

"The guy walked up to the individual on the basketball court and pulled his gun up to him, put it directly to his head," Kitam, Sr. says. "I immediately grabbed my son, positioned him behind me, and at that time I raised my hands and pleaded with the guy, 'Don't shoot this guy in front of my son, he doesn't need to see this.'"

But despite all that he has been through in 18 years growing up in Compton, Kitam Hamm has never been tempted to join a gang. Instead he remains focused on his academic goals and on his future in football.

"Any coach would love having a guy who's got the kind of leadership he has," says Benedict. "You love to find a kid who's self-disciplined, who can motivate himself, who leads by example, and who's not just going to be swayed by the crowd. It's very unusual."

This segment aired on December 3, 2011.


More from Only A Game

Listen Live