The cornerback steered his custom truck through familiar streets. The ex-convict sat shotgun and pointed out landmarks, this “drug hole,” that “crack house,” the best routes for eluding the police.
Al Harris, at right above, with Kevin Soto. The two childhood friends plan to release a Christian rap album in August.
The cornerback is Al Harris. He wears No. 31 for the Green Bay Packers. The ex-convict is Kevin Soto. He wore No. 693430 in the Florida Department of Corrections.
They met 25 years ago, two boys from the same neighborhood north of Miami, bonded by break dancing and back flips and music above all else. That was before Harris went to the N.F.L., before Soto went to prison, before either man had heard of Christian rap.
“All these years, music kept coming up, kept bringing us together,” Harris, 35, said. “It always came back to music, no matter what we did, or where we went.”
In August, Harris and Soto will release a Christian rap album, the culmination of two lives that veered in opposite directions and converged again recently.
The cornerback wore shoulder pads for the first time at age 2, already certain his future was in football. The local boys’ club produced a stunning number of elite athletes, including the N.B.A. guard Eddie Jones and the seven players from Harris’s Blanche Ely High School teams who have played in the N.F.L.
The ex-convict preferred hip-hop. Soto owned one of the first portable stereos in the neighborhood, and he wrote rhymes about street life and Burger King commercials and rapped over the latest beats.