Cricket's unlikely home in Compton

Originally Published: July 21, 2011
By Cary Chow | Special to Page 2

COMPTON, Calif. -- Cricket is widely considered the world's second-most popular sport, renowned for etiquette and sportsmanship. Compton is widely considered one of the most dangerous cities in America, notorious for gang violence. It doesn't sound like a match made by Chuck Woolery, but the two have forged an unlikely love connection.

"Without cricket, I couldn't imagine my life the way it is right now," said Compton native Sergio Pinales, 32. "It's kind of bliss."

Pinales is one of 20 members of the Compton Cricket Club, also known as the Homies and the POPz. In 1995, the team originated as a means of teaching etiquette to the homeless, but soon transformed into a gang prevention tool for the youth in Compton. The team has since toured internationally, even met Prince Edward at Buckingham Palace, but more importantly, they've inspired people around the world to pursue a more disciplined, productive lifestyle.

"You just give them something to do so they're not bored, getting into fights, looking for something to do, and obviously something so dumb as taking someone's life," said team co-captain Emidio Cazarez, whose brother was killed in a drive-by. "People don't come back, man. Hopefully we can do something about that."

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