LOS ANGELES // Snoop Dogg, infamous for violent, misogynous lyrics and a lifelong love of drugs, is shaking off his bad boy image to reveal his softer side – as avuncular little league football trainer “Coach Snoop”.
Snoop, 44, founded the Snoop Youth Football League more than a decade ago and has been quietly teaching thousands of inner city children teamwork, discipline and self-respect through sport.
Now his little-known community work is to be made public in Coach Snoop, a reality show chronicling the rise of his Diamond Valley Steelers from a rag-tag bunch of 12-year-olds from the mean streets of LA to one of the top youth teams in the United States.
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“The experiences I give these kids, it’s nothing to me but it means the world to them, and I’m just privileged to be able to take my Snoop Dogg power and use it to sprinkle all this love to these kids,” Snoop said.
Sporting spectacles and his dreads tied back in a ponytail, Snoop comes across as an enlightened, urbane father figure, imparting wisdom to his proteges, many of whom come from single-parent families in tough neighbourhoods.
Most of the children know who he is, but the millionaire musician is at pains to keep his R-rated hip-hop persona away from the football field.
"I've never busted a rap for the kids. Thirteen years I've been coaching, I ain't never did one rap," Snoop said at a preview screening of Coach Snoop in Hollywood on Monday. "If a kid calls me Snoop Dogg, they gotta do 20 push-ups. They know they don't get Snoop Dogg until they hit 19 or 20."
The show was directed by multiple Emmy award-winning sports filmmaker Rory Karpf, who helmed the ESPN miniseries Snoop and Son, about the rapper's relationship with his son, UCLA wide receiver Cordell Broadus.
“It was actually shocking – I didn’t realise how involved he was. He’s involved to the point where he’s sitting down with these kids talking about their grades and home life, and bullying,” Karpf said. “What he says on the series is this is his true calling, and he looks at music as a means to an end.”
The embodiment of the 1990s LA “gangsta” rap scene, Calvin Broadus Jr was raised in Long Beach, where he frequently ran into trouble with the law and spent three years in and out of jail after graduating high school.
He came to notice under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg in 1992 through his drawled, laconic lyrics on Dr Dre's seminal album The Chronic before rising to worldwide stardom with his quadruple-platinum record Doggystyle.
He has sold more than 37 million albums, appeared in dozens of films – most famously in Starsky & Hutch (2004) and Training Day (2001).
His notoriety was assured when he was arrested for murder and then acquitted along with his bodyguard over the drive-by shooting in 1993 of gang member Phillip Woldermarian.
His quarter-century career has been plagued by arrests and convictions for possession of weapons, drugs, as well as bans of various lengths from entering Britain, Norway and Australia.
Less well known is the time he has dedicated to youth football since 2005, when his league launched with the participation of 1,300 children in the Los Angeles area.
It has expanded across California and beyond in the last decade and, in 2014, produced its first NFL players.
The nine-episode Coach Snoop, available beginning on Thursday on AOL.com, tells the story of Snoop's inner-city Steelers, their triumphs and disappointments over the course of a season, and the lessons they learn on and off the field.
“These kids surprise me, they shock me. We’ve had kids that went on to become lawyers, doctors, firemen,” Snoop said.
“It’s not just the football players, it’s not just boys in the league, it’s cheerleaders, it’s girls in this league – it’s lives that we’re shaping and changing and molding.”
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