Kamara for the culture He grew up with the Migos, wears nose rings and a grill in games and is the front-runner for Rookie of the Year — but who really is Alvin Kamara?

Editor’s note: This story contains explicit language.


NEW ORLEANS — At the kitchen table of his split-level downtown condo, a hop and skip from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Alvin Kamara scrolls through the video call log in one of his two iPhones. “I can FaceTime him right now,” he says. “He’ll probably pick up.”

It’s Christmas Eve, and four hours have passed since the New Orleans Saints beat the Atlanta Falcons, 23-13, to clinch the franchise’s first playoff appearance in four seasons. For Kamara, the Saints’ 22-year-old running back and the NFL’s runaway favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year, the moment calls for some reminiscing about the journey.

Back to when he was juggling Division I offers and chasing league dreams. Back to when he was dominating on high school football fields in and around his hometown of Norcross, Georgia. After games, three of his childhood friends who aspired to be big-time rappers would show up at local clubs. “They’d come in with 100 people, perform and walk out,” Kamara remembers. “Just tryna make it.”

A music executive everyone calls “Coach K” is the man who gave the trio a chance, and to Kamara, Kevin “Coach K” Lee is his uncle. Coach K — who has managed the careers of Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane, and who is credited by The New York Times as taking Southern U.S. black culture global — is about keeping family close, and keeping it winning.

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Kamara is the first and only athlete to be represented by Solid Foundation, a sports management division of Coach K’s Quality Control record label. And with a strong and close-knit support system, Kamara, a Pro Bowler and seven-time league Player of the Week, has revitalized the culture of the Saints, the city of New Orleans — and perhaps, in a tough year, of the NFL itself.

And those high school homies? They’re now known around the world by their rap names — Quavo, Offset and Takeoff, aka the No. 1 hit-making, Grammy Award-nominated Migos. “It’s dope to see the growth,” Kamara says. “Seeing them come up from nothing.” In 2017, the Migos emerged as the world’s most influential rap group, perhaps the best since OutKast.

“I don’t just play football. I’m Alvin. Alvin Kamara. I happen to play football.”

“I was talking to Qua yesterday,” Kamara says before tapping on Quavo’s contact to initiate another FaceTime. “He was like, ‘Man, I’m proud of you. You just been ballin’. I remember when shit was bad and you stayed true to it.’ ”

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True indeed. In his first season in the NFL, Kamara has averaged 7.7 yards per offensive touch, more than any player in league history (minimum of 200 touches). Not since Gale Sayers in 1965 has a rookie scored five rushing touchdowns and five receiving touchdowns in a single season — until Kamara. And Kamara’s ballsy, fake-kneel, 106-yard kick return for a touchdown in the regular-season finale is the longest play in Saints franchise history.

No other NFL player in the league is doing quite what he’s doing, and no other player looks quite like him either. In addition to wearing his hair in twists, he rocks two nose rings and a shiny gold grill in his mouth — on the field. And off of it, Kamara has plenty of gold around his neck, Louis Vuitton on his wrists and Alexander Wang on his feet. In a season polarized by protests, and missing star New York Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Kamara brought swag to the NFL. He might even mean as much to the culture as the Migos right now.

Nine long rings on the call to Quavo, and no answer.

“I don’t know what he doing,” Kamara says. “He might call back.”


The recruitment of Alvin Kamara resulted in offers from just about every powerhouse college football program. On national signing day in 2013, with his mother, Adama, and Coach K beside him, Kamara decided to roll with the Alabama Crimson Tide, the school that once sent him 105 letters in a single day. He made the announcement during a crowded news conference at Norcross High School.

“Of all the kids I’ve ever recruited, I probably got closer to him and his family than any kid,” says Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, the former Crimson Tide defensive coordinator who secured Kamara’s commitment. “I don’t know why. He took a liking to me, I took a liking to him. We respected each other.” The two keep in touch via text and FaceTime. Kamara ends those calls with, “Love you.”

Kamara was poised for playing time despite a loaded depth chart — future NFL backs Derrick Henry, T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake — at his position. But a knee injury requiring surgery forced him to redshirt. “Alvin got put down with the scout team,” Smart says. “I can remember Nick Saban having to kick him out of practice: Hey, if you’re not gonna run the ball with the scout team, get out of here. Alvin didn’t like the idea of that, and I think he’d be the first to admit he didn’t handle it well. We didn’t handle it well. He ended up saying, at the end of the semester, ‘I’m gonna transfer.’ ”

Kamara called Coach K to help him pack up his dorm room, and his uncle dropped everything he was doing — the Migos were just months from releasing their breakthrough hit, “Versace” — to be there. “Don’t even look back,” said Coach K. “We good. Whatever the next move is, we’re gonna execute it. We just gonna be A1.”

But on Feb. 13, 2014, at 19 years old, Kamara was arrested in Norcross for driving with a suspended license. “I’m sitting in the back of a cop car, like, What the f— am I doing?” He had enough pocket money to bail himself out, but police made him wait hours in a cell for his mother to come get him. “That was my sign,” he says. “Things had caught up to me.”

Kamara decided to stop dodging calls from Hutchinson Community College and boarded a plane to Kansas. He says he essentially “disappeared” for a year into his version of Last Chance U. It took one super productive, conference-offensive-player-of-the-year season — 1,469 total yards of offense and 21 touchdowns in only nine games — to make him a five-star junior college prospect. Kamara returned to the SEC, this time to Tennessee. “AK is a good dude,” says Hutchinson recruiting coordinator Thaddeus Brown. “He just had to figure it all out.”

And those high school homies? They’re now known around the world by their rap names — Quavo, Offset and Takeoff.

It may have helped that somewhere along the road from Tuscaloosa to Knoxville, Kamara embraced who he is, especially with regard to his personal style. His middle school classmates had called him, as Kamara puts it, “weird as f—.” But ever since, he’d run from himself. It was time to return.

It started with a stud in his left nostril that he’d always wanted. When Kamara noticed too many others with their noses pierced, he one-upped them with a septum piercing. At Tennessee, he began wearing both, and, instead of the usual plastic mouthguard, he wore a grill during games. Kamara: “I was just like, ‘Bruh, I’m about to be me.’ It’s gonna be real hard for y’all to make me not be me.”


“He’s so unassuming,” says David Raymond, Kamara’s day-to-day manager. “If you just see him on the street, you wouldn’t be like, ‘That’s a running back.’ ”

At the 2016 NFL scouting combine, Kamara, who had declared early, topped higher-profile running backs — Dalvin Cook now of the Minnesota Vikings, Leonard Fournette of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Christian McCaffrey of the Carolina Panthers — in both the vertical leap (39.5 inches) and broad jump (10 feet, 11 inches). He ran a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. Yet his history at ’Bama, coupled with his arrest, and even his choice to leave Tennessee early, made some skeptical. “You see the gold teeth,” says Raymond, “and the nose rings, but you don’t see the young man.”

Alvin Kamara runs the 40-yard dash during the 2017 NFL combine.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Kamara notched a 24 on the Wonderlic. It was the highest score posted by any Division I running back prospect. And Kamara says that while he was training in Miami with former Hurricanes strength coach Andreu Swasey, he “never took one m—–f—— practice Wonderlic. I don’t know if people look at me and think, ‘He just plays football.’ I can chop it up on anything you want to talk about — from football … fashion … current news … history. We can do all that. I don’t just play football. I’m Alvin. Alvin Kamara. I happen to play football.”

Kamara’s stylish singularity, he feels, caused him in many cases to be condescended to, and in other cases to be racially pigeonholed. Kamara chooses not to reveal the name of an NFL owner who talked to him through a sneer. “You like fashion,” the man said. “Your friends are rappers. You got the look. You got the nose rings. You look like you could probably do something else … like you don’t need football.”

Kamara pondered: Just because I know some people? I’ve not made one song. If I wanted to be a rapper, I would’ve been doing that a long time ago. After the interview, the team’s running backs coach approached Kamara and confirmed what the prospect already suspected: The owner didn’t believe Kamara “loved football.” And that it was unlikely Kamara would be listed on the team’s big board come draft night. The interaction begged questions: Does a person have to “need” football in order to love it and play at the highest level? And can one love football and possess a full identity outside of it?

“He didn’t handle it well. We didn’t handle it well. One thing led to another and he ended up saying at the end of the semester, ‘I’m gonna transfer.’ ”

Kamara says at least three other teams tossed up similar red flags. “If somebody feels a certain way about the way I carry myself, or the way I dress, the way I talk, I don’t know what to tell you … because I don’t hate nobody. But if you don’t like me? I’mma keep it moving.”


Kamara’s flair may have been lost on some owners and front-office executives, but not on JR Duperrier, a sports marketing manager for Adidas. He had gone to the combine to sign former Michigan star Jabrill Peppers. When he got to Indianapolis, he found Kamara.

“My first impression of Alvin,” says Duperrier, “was he’s kinda swaggy.He looked like he could dress a lil’ bit, and I could dig it.” Duperrier is quite fashion-forward himself, having been named by BET as one of the 25 most influential people in sneakers last October. “Given a platform, Alvin can excel. He’s his own person. He doesn’t follow what other people do.”

Adidas announced the signing of Kamara on Twitter, 17 minutes after the New Orleans Saints selected him in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft with the 67th overall pick (63 spots behind Fournette, 59 behind McCaffrey, 26 behind Cook and 19 behind Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon). For Kamara, his pre-draft gathering was a blur. Just a simple chat with head coach Sean Payton and running backs coach Joel Thomas. “They weren’t pressing me,” Kamara says matter-of-factly. Something about the Saints just felt right. When he reported to the team’s training facility for the first time, he noticed it again.

Saints running back Alvin Kamara jumps over Darius Slay of the Detroit Lions.

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Maybe it was how defensive end Cam Jordan, a three-time Pro Bowler, greeted him for the first time. “This man got a nose ring! You f—ing millennials!” And the first time he met Drew Brees, the future Hall of Famer knew about Kamara’s skills, and recognized the potential. “ ‘I wanna work with you,’ ” Kamara recalls Brees saying. “ ‘Let’s grow together.’ ” Brees and Kamara have found common ground and channeled it into a rejuvenated winning culture in New Orleans.

“He always seems like he’s having fun,” says Brees, “and he definitely has a swagger to him. He fits in great with our locker room.” Throughout his first months in that locker room, Kamara won the rookie Halloween costume contest. He treated his offensive line to surprise rib meals in their lockers for helping him win FedEx Ground Player of the Week. And he sat on a throne of Airheads, a candy partnership Kamara had in his sights on since the draft. He always carries a pack of the taffy with him, offering some to anyone who crosses his path.

Most notably, Kamara has established a playing and personal relationship with the veteran of the backfield, Mark Ingram. The rookie has become what New Orleans calls the “zoom” to Ingram’s “boom” in games, after which the pair conduct hilariously informative postgame interviews together in front of their adjacent lockers. This season, they became the first running back duo in NFL history to each record 1,500 yards from scrimmage.

“This guy has so much on his plate,” says Ingram, “where he has to line up, how many different ways we wanna get him the ball. It says a lot about him as a professional. He deserves all of the success that’s coming his way.” Ingram calls Kamara not just a special player but also a special human being. “Offensive Rookie of the Year … we got it.”

Alvin Kamara (right) and Mark Ingram talk during a game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Chris Graythen/Getty Images

And contrary to popular belief, which Kamara dispels any chance he gets, there’s no animosity between him and Adrian Peterson, whom the Saints traded to the Arizona Cardinals before Week 6, just as Kamara’s stock began rising exponentially. The rookie soaked up as much knowledge as he could from the future Hall of Famer. “Keep playing,” Peterson told Kamara once in practice. “Keep being you.”

He took the advice to heart: 1,554 total yards from scrimmage through 16 regular-season games. He also owns the highest yards-per-carry average (6.1) for any first-year rusher in the Super Bowl era (minimum of 100 carries) and broke a 36-year-old franchise record for most touchdowns by a rookie, with 14. Simply put, Kamara got all he could ever ask for in his first NFL team. Because the Saints let Alvin be Alvin.


It’s a party in Suite 354 at the Superdome — jam-packed with Kamara’s people. “I just got here,” says Coach K, fresh off a private jet to see his nephew play. “All he had to do is play ball when he got here. Be young. Bring the swag. Do his thing.” Quality Control co-founder Pierre “Pee” Thomas is there, along with David Raymond and Duperrier. New Orleans rapper Young Greatness is rocking a custom Alvin Kamara hoodie, created by the designer/stylist Tvenchy, who’s responsible for many of the rookie’s day-to-day outfits and is in the suite vibing as well.

It’s hard to miss the boisterous Tonee, who played high school football with Kamara before becoming Atlanta singer 6lack’s official DJ. Or JAT, a friend from Tennessee who runs her own hair business. Saints superfan Jarrius Robertson even pops in. Along with his mother (who watched from home, although she hates to see her son take hits on-screen, or in person), this is Kamara’s foundation. “I kind of try to block it out when I’m playing because it’s distracting, but at the same time … my friends are here, so you wanna do good,” Kamara says later. “Not only for me, but for them.”

Alvin Kamara celebrates with fans after scoring a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers.

Sean Gardner/Getty Images

After the playoff-clinching win that Kamara finishes with a solid 21 touches for 162 yards, he and the crew partake in his season-long tradition. They make the 1.1-mile journey from the stadium exit back to his apartment — on foot. Along the way, he’s stopped every five steps by curious Saints fans, wondering, Is that really Alvin Kamara? Yes, it’s him. And he’ll take a picture with anyone who asks. “If I sign an autograph, somebody will be like, ‘Put Rookie of the Year,’ ” he says. “Do I want to be Rookie of the Year? Of course. … You can only do it once. But I can’t put it until I win it.”

“All he had to do is play ball. Be young. Bring the swag. And do his thing.”

Hours after the walk home, New Orleans is abnormally quiet, save for the few packed restaurants. A Kamara and Quavo FaceTime happens, as the Migos’ genius sits in a glowing Atlanta studio and chops it up about jewelry and such — “Show me the ice!” he says — with the NFL’s most explosive offensive weapon. After the call, not even the star rookie running back of the Saints can secure a last-minute reservation downtown on the night before Christmas.

So it’s into his black Audi S7 V8T and on to a chicken wing joint on the outskirts of the city, where he’s perhaps even more heralded as he places a food order fit for an army. It’s apparent that the stone-faced cashier sort of recognizes him, though she can’t fully put her finger on the exact identity of the nose-ringed, beanie-wearing figure before her.

“We need that Super Bowl!!!” a middle-aged man shouts.

“Off rip. I got you,” Kamara responds with a dap. “A hunnid.”

A moment of clarity overcomes the cashier, who looks at her customer with a warm smile. “Alvin Kamara?” she says. “I thought that was you.”

Bob Marley’s call for peace for Jamaica at the ‘Third World Woodstock’ The One Love Peace Concert attempted to bring calm and political unity to a country in turmoil

Chris Blackwell recalls, with pinpoint vividness, the moment Bob Marley walked into his London office. It was 1972, and Marley, along with fellow Wailers bandmates Peter Tosh and Bunny (Livingston) Wailer, found themselves stranded after being invited to go to Sweden to do music for a film that had fallen through. The musicians, down and out, had just enough money to get from Stockholm to England. With no way to get home to Jamaica, their ultimate destination, they connected with Blackwell through a friend and requested a meeting. Blackwell, then a 35-year-old budding music and entertainment mogul, was interested, of course, in meeting the young musicians. As the founder of Island Records, which he started at age 22, Blackwell had a huge hand in popularizing Jamaican music that eventually became known as ska. He’d even released some of the Wailers’ early records, including “Bend Down Low,” as well as their first record, “Judge Not,” which was produced by Leslie Kong, in Jamaica.

But he’d never met the lads — and didn’t exactly know what to expect. “They all struck me as special,” recalled Blackwell, who was working with Toots and the Maytals, the Jamaican group that brought the word “reggae” to the world with their 1968 single “Do the Reggay.” “I got this call to say they were stranded — yet when they came into my office, they came in a way like princes: They had a strong personality, a strong sense of self. They were impressive. I was immediately enamored with them.” Call it happenstance, or even serendipity, but the meeting couldn’t have come at a better time for Blackwell, and for the Wailers. Blackwell had lost his main Jamaican reggae artist, Jimmy Cliff, who had decided to leave Island Records to sign with EMI just a week before.

“At that period and time, I was very involved with rock music and not so involved in the day-to-day Jamaican music anymore,” Blackwell said. The Wailers needed Blackwell, and Blackwell needed the Wailers.

The rest, as they say, is history — beautiful, soulful history. A few months after that chance meeting, Blackwell found himself in Jamaica and in a studio with the Wailers, who played him Catch a Fire, their 1973 LP and first album released by Blackwell’s Island Records. It was the start of a lifelong friendship, as Blackwell would co-produce virtually all of Marley’s classic ’70s albums and contribute to his appeal to a worldwide audience.

“My experience with him was nothing but great,” reflected Blackwell, now 79. “We never had an argument, never had a misunderstanding. He always kept his word on everything. He led by example. He was a natural leader. Bob was always the first one on the bus. That was totally unique. I’d never seen that before. He was very understated and didn’t make a lot of noise. He just had that kind of aura.”

One Love, One Heart

Jamaica was not a good place to be in the ’70s. Not for tourists, not for natives — not for anybody. The island known for its nice vibes and white-sand beaches ran amok with gangs, drugs, violence, corruption and political upheaval. The leaders on both sides, Prime Minister Michael Manley of the People’s National Party (PNP) and Edward Seaga of the rival Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), had little in common — save for disdain for each other. Manley was aggressively opposed by the CIA and American business interests, and by 1974 he was opposed by the more conservative, Harvard-educated Seaga, whose previous life included time as a music producer and promoter. Things came to a head when the two politicians hired local gangsters to help them increase their hold on power.

A street view of Kingston , Jamaica, in 1974.

Dick Loek/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Marley found himself in the middle of this concrete jungle when, in 1976, he was almost killed two days before he was to perform at Smile Jamaica, a public concert organized by Manley. A bullet passed through Marley’s elbow; his wife, Rita, had a bullet removed from her head. Marley played the concert but left immediately afterward for two years of self-imposed exile in London and the Bahamas.

“After his 1976 attack, he took off and went to the Bahamas,” said Neville Garrick, Marley’s longtime graphic designer and stage manager best known for creating the artwork for many Marley album covers. “He’d only come in [to Jamaica] for a day or two, and then he’s gone. So I think that even after the attack, he felt funny about the vibes in Jamaica for himself at that time.”

The need for peace, something the Smile Jamaica show attempted to bring about, stayed on everyone’s mind. Ironically enough, the idea for a proper peace concert would come from two gangsters from rival political factions: Claudius “Claudie” Massop (who repped the JLP) and Aston “Bucky” Marshall (PNP), who jointly decided that the best means to bring the country together was through music. And Marley, it was decided, would be the person to headline the show — and the movement.

“I know for sure that the whole idea stemmed from political people who knew Bob, and they all met up on mutual ground in England and said, ‘Let’s do something to bring some peace to the community,’ ” recalled Stephen “Cat” Coore, one of the founding members of the band Third World. “Things had been rough in the community. There had been a lot of political warfare. But that was what the plan was: to have this concert and bring some peace to the community,” continued Coore, who played bass for Marley during Smile Jamaica.

The poster for the One Love Peace Concert

With Marley on board, momentum for the One Love Peace Concert grew. Those close to Marley say the musician felt a calling, not even two years after he was almost killed, to be his country’s messenger of peace. He also felt no fear.

“In a strange way, he did feel a calling,” Coore said. “He felt that there were certain things he wanted to do, and he was a man with a plan. When the time came to go to Zimbabwe on [April 17, 1980] to support the revolution there, he was the one guy who didn’t run off the stage when the tear gas was thrown. He realized what his presence could do to make the whole event happen. That concert was another top moment in Bob’s life.”

Returning home from England for the One Love Peace Concert, Marley received a hero’s welcome, something he didn’t anticipate. “I was 10,” recalled son Ziggy, now 48. “It was a big crowd at the airport, and it was so crowded and hectic, they had to pull me through the car window to get me into the car. It was a very exciting time. It was like … like Jamaica was about to change.”

Garrick recalled: “It was, basically, ‘Bob is home!’ There was a whole heap of men in the yard — from both sides. Everybody come fi check Bob. We started working with the peace committee … there was press that came. International press, too. I remember one thing Bob tell them: ‘Rasta don’t go left, Rasta don’t go right — Rasta go straight ahead.’ It just [goes] to show you that Bob was drawing a line to say, ‘I’m behind the church, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church — not on any particular side.’ ”

Billed as the “Third World Woodstock,” the One Love Peace Concert — on April 22, 1978 — attracted more than 30,000 people to the National Stadium in Kingston. The performers included rude boy Jacob Miller, Peter Tosh (who, Garrick recalls, berated political leaders sitting directly in front of him for their positions against legalizing marijuana) and, of course, Marley, who took to the stage just after midnight.

“The vibe was great, the whole vibe of the concert,” recalled Blackwell, who was in the crowd. “It was really sort of encouraging because the purpose of the concert was to try to get these politicians to work together rather than being at war. You have to remember, the political violence had damaged Jamaica badly — which really sort of started in the early ’70s, and now we’re in 1978 — so it had been going on for seven, eight years.

“People didn’t want to go to Jamaica. Jamaica was like South Sudan is today. It was affecting everybody, the overall negativity. Clearly, the public was sick to death of it. It took Bob really to be able to have the clout to get the leaders of the two parties to actually come together … nobody else could have gotten them to do that.”

Manley and Seaga were both in attendance — not sitting together, of course, but in the same place, sending a clear message to the country that a coming-together movement had begun.

Bob Marley and The Wailers perform while they have Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley (far left) and his political opponent Edward Seaga (third from left) on the stage during the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, Jamaica.

Echoes/Redferns

Marley performed and didn’t disappoint, singing some of his biggest hits at the time. But it was during his performance of “Jammin’” that the show became something bigger — when Marley brought Manley and Seaga up to the stage in the ultimate gesture of unity.

“He called them up, [and] Seaga came up quick,” Garrick recalled. “I think it forced Michael’s hand. Seaga was on stage a good minute and a half before Michael [came up]. One came [from] stage right, the other [from] stage left. The pictures will tell it — the stage was full of people.

“They swarmed — at least 50 people on stage. The thing [Bob] was trying to say was: ‘OK, here are the two men you’re fighting over. We put them together. Now we’re calling for peace. If these two men can come together peacefully, then surely you can as well.’ It was very symbolic.”

Added Cooke: “That whole thing about how Bob got Michael Manley and [Edward] Seaga to come up on stage to shake hands was just Bob [saying], ‘This is what we’re gonna do to bring some peace to the community.’ Things had been rough in the community.”

So Much Trouble In the World

After that epic concert, there was a period of calm — even somewhat of a truce among warring communities in and around Kingston, including Tivoli Gardens, Arnett Gardens and Trench Town. But a short two and a half years later, in October 1980, Jamaica would have one of its most violent elections. Seaga’s JLP would emerge victorious and the balance of power switched hands.

“The fact that Jamaica had a tremendously violent election … doesn’t mean that the Peace Concert was a failure,” said Third World’s Coore. “The Peace Concert was a victory in a lot of ways. We’ve never really had that kind of volatility since those times. I still believe that whole era of the Peace Concert was a great period for Jamaica because people put their money where their mouth was and musicians stepped up to the plate.”

Bob Marley performs during the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston, Jamaica.

Adrian Boot

Added Blackwell: “Calm wasn’t instantly achieved, but [the show] broke what was a deadlock where there was no hope of anything being achieved.” Blackwell is currently promoting the One Love Marley Musical he produced that’s showing in Birmingham, England, and the One Love Peace Concert is a vital part of the story. “[That concert] did change things. After that, it quieted down. It didn’t quiet down to nothing, by any means, [but] that concert was the thing that caused people to change.”


Some 45 years after Marley, Tosh and Wailer walked into Blackwell’s office with dreams of making an impact on the world with music, a reflective Blackwell finds himself looking back on a life that could have been saved, not needlessly cut short by cancer, at 36 years of age.

“The whole thing of Bob passing was just really a tragedy, a disgrace in a sense,” Blackwell lamented. “Nobody, absolutely nobody — from he himself, people close to him, to those who worked with him after that period, including myself — never mentioned anything to him about having regular checkups to see if there were any negative effects from the [soccer] accident he had on his toe. We did know that he was advised to have it amputated, and he didn’t want to do that because he loved soccer — 98 percent as much as he loved music. The thought that if he had his toe cut off he would no longer be able to play soccer in the same way, without the agility with his foot.

“It’s a disgrace that all of us involved were not on him all the time to make sure he had checkups, and that really what happened. Nobody did anything, and when it happened it was too late, had spread too much, and there was nothing that could be done.”

Marley’s oldest daughter with Rita adds perspective: “You know what, Daddy was pretty strong in wanting to make a difference — not just in his life and his children’s life, but in the world,” said Cedella Marley, 49. “As corny as that might sound, he really believed he could do it. I think now, him seeing what’s happening, I think he should feel very accomplished.

“The good thing about Daddy is his message is more relevant today than 30, 40 years ago, and that’s powerful. That’s what I still admire about my dad.”