Screwston, Texas

Purple Drank Goes Pro, Thanks To ESPN

ESPN's Outside the Lines, the Emmy Award-winning investigative series that examines topical issues off the playing field, aired a feature over the weekend on Houston's very own rap mascot - purple drank - the dangerous mix of prescription codeine cough syrup and any range of mixers from Sprite (and maybe a few Jolly Ranchers) to Dr Pepper.

The drug, whose origin is credited to legendary Houston music producer DJ Screw, has been popularized by hip-hop artists like Lil Wayne and any number of mainstream Houston rappers. It's taken the lives of Houston artists DJ Screw, Big Moe and Pimp C.

ESPN's investigative story focused on Fifth Ward product Johnny Jolly, a NFL player with the Green Bay Packers, who on July 8, 2008, was arrested for possession of a controlled substance in front of a Houston nightspot.

The drug's use hasn't only become more widespread, but apparently, the profit margins associated with selling codeine cough syrup are also getting professional athletes in hot water. Think about it. Pharmacists buy one pint of the drug wholesale at $10 to $20, but it has a street value of $675 to $800.

Former San Diego Chargers football player and Lufkin native Terrence Kiel, a teammate of Jolly's at Texas A&M, was arrested while with the NFL in 2006 for sending a parcel (15 bottles) of cough syrup to his home state of Texas, but before authorities could get to him, he died in a single car-crash in 2008.

NBA player Shawne Williams was placed on probation in January for also intending to distribute the purple delight in his hometown of Memphis. He's on probation and received no jail time.

It's official. Purple's gone pro.

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Contributor Rolando Rodriguez is the co-founder of Trill Multicultural.