Few knew his name, but many would remember his memorable role in John Singleton's 1991 Oscar-nominated film Boyz n the Hood, as the gang member who shot and killed Morris Chesnut's character, the promising high school football star Ricky Baker, as he ran for his life in the gang infested neighbourhood of Crenshaw, Los Angeles. Lloyd Avery II grew up in a quiet middle-class neighbourhood and along with his brother Ché, had wanted to pursue an acting career. After starring in Singleton's movie, Avery's career took somewhat of a step backwards, and few knew his private life was becoming eerily similar to that of the on-screen character that kick-started his acting work. In the early 2000's, he was finally landing more acting roles, however, his gangster lifestyle was about to catch up with him. In the summer of 2001 he was arrested for his involvement in a double homicide, sentenced to life imprisonment, he was sent to Pelican Bay State Prison where he was murdered by his Satan-worshipping cellmate.
Lloyd Fernandez Avery was born on 21 June 1969, and grew up in Los Angeles, California. The Avery family lived in a quiet middle-class neighbourhood in View Park and Lloyd was raised in a Christian household, receiving a good upbringing and education, whilst attending Beverly Hills High School. Lloyd and his younger brother Ché were of was of African-American and Mexican descent, and both wanted to break into the world of acting. In 1991, he got his big break when he was cast as the street thug "Knucklehead #2" in John Singleton's movie Boyz n the Hood, which depicted gang culture and the lives of three young African-American's growing up in South Central Los Angeles. The film followed the friendship between Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character Tre Styles, and the Baker brother's played by Ice Cube and Morris Chestnut. In one of the film's most memorable scene's, Chesnut's Ricky Baker, a promising football star, and Gooding's character go to the local store to pick up groceries. There they spot a group of Blood-affiliated gang members lead by Ferris, one of whom was played by Avery, and the two split up to escape any trouble. The gang members eventually catch up with Chestnut's character who is tragically murdered. Avery's gun toting gang banger is seen leaning out of the window of Ferris' bright red sports car, shooting Ricky twice with a double-barrelled shotgun, killing him instantly.
Avery as Knucklehead #2 in Boyz n the Hood
Towards the end of the film, Ice Cube's Darrin "Doughboy" Baker seeks revenge for the death of his brother and enlists Tre to help him. In a moment of redemption, Tre Style's heeds the advice of his father and returns home. Baker goes through with his plan and catches up with Ferris and his gang outside a local fast food restaurant, and as they attempt to flee they are cut down by shots from an AK-47. Avery's character is killed outright, whilst his fellow gang member Ferris is executed by Cube's "Doughboy". In a poignant aftermath Doughboy states his understanding of why his friend chose to leave before the murders, and explains how he too will soon face retaliation for his actions. The film represents themes of revenge and gang culture prevalent in Los Angeles, and would go on to become a critical and commercial success, being nominated for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay at the 64th Academy Awards and was selected in 2002 for preservation in the the National Film Registry. Avery's character, despite having only appeared in several small scenes, would make him instantly recognisable because of his notorious role in the film as a member of the Crenshaw Mafia Gangsters.
Not long after the film's release, Avery shocked those closest to him by moving away from his middle-class neighbourhood and relocating to an area known as the "Jungle", the heavily Blood-affiliated neighbourhoods of Crenshaw Boulevard, Coliseum Street, Santo Tomas Drive and La Brea Avenue. Lloyd seemed to embrace the culture of his new home, and had the word "JUNGLEZ" tattooed above his left eyebrow. Malcolm Norrington, who played Knucklehead #1 alongside Avery's Knucklehead #2 in Boyz n the Hood recalled his co-star during filming, "He was kind of meek, he was not anything near a street guy." Norrington said, "Within a year of Boyz, I was hearing about him missing auditions. I don’t remember when I heard about him joining (a gang). I just remember being perplexed. To me, it was like, What is he doing Blooding? Lloyd?." Despite his new-found status as a gang-member, Avery continued to land small bit-parts and in 1992 he played Red in the 8 January 1992 episode "Dangerous Reunions" of the hit television show Doogie Howser, M.D.. The following year he was cast as Thug #1 in another Singleton film, Poetic Justice, starring alongside his brother Ché who played Thug #2, as well as Janet Jackson, Regina King and the late Tupac Shakur, in what would be his third acting role.
Ché and Lloyd Avery in Poetic Justice (2000)
But his work was erratic, and he wouldn't appear in another film until three years later, when he starred in an uncredited role in the Wayan Brother's 1996 crime comedy film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. The film was a parody of movies like Boyz n the Hood, Poetic Justice and Menace II Society, and in this small role Avery played "guy in the back seat", in what would be his last acting role for the next four years. Avery emerged back on the scene in 1999 starring as "Man in Jail" in Eric Meza's comedy film The Breaks, and later in 2000 as Nate in the critically acclaimed film Lockdown, before taking part in what would be his last role. As the character G-Ride, Avery played a menacing yet charismatic gang member in the 2001 independent film Shot, which documented life on the dangerous streets of South Central LA. Avery would also serve as a technical adviser on the film, working with director Roger Roth, and perhaps offering up his own experience of gang related life in the Jungle. Avery would even have a prominent appearance on the Movie poster.
Avery on the movie poster for Shot (2001)
Around this time his career suffered another drop, and his acting work dried up. He was becoming ever more embroiled in the LA gangster culture of drugs, guns and violence, and in 2005 he became involved in a real life gang-related incident when he participated in the murders of two drug dealers. His brother Ché remembers the last night be spent with his brother as a free man. The two were sitting in the two-car garage of their grandmother's house on Crescent Heights Boulevard near Beverly Hills. As they sat, talked and smoked hits from a bong, Ché recalled his older brother saying, "I've had a good life" as they both continued to smoke weed. "You want to hear some hear something scary?", Lloyd asked him, but his brother knew that Los Angeles detectives had been searching for his brother to speak with him, and it seemed like he wanted to get something off his chest but Ché was worried about what he might say. "I don't want to hear that shit", Ché muttered, and pulled out a pocketknife, brandishing it in the air, indicating he wanted to cut the conversation short. Nothing more was said that evening, and Lloyd spent the night sleeping on the floor in his grandmothers bedroom.
The LAPD were aware of where Lloyd was hiding out and the next morning they moved to make an arrest. Ché said he remembered the helicopters that morning were louder than usual, and there was lots of traffic outside the house. Lloyd was in the kitchen with his bike and before he left through the back door, he gave his brother one last hug, but nothing more was said about the previous night. He made his way up Crescent Heights Boulevard, making a u-turn where he pulled alongside the driver's side door of police cruiser. He then brazenly leaned forward and asked the officer, "What's up?", as he released his grip on the handlebars of his aluminium Mongoose. Just then the officer opened his door and Lloyd stumbled momentarily before recovering quickly, speeding West in an attempt to elude the pursuing police vehicle. He soon collided with another police car and was placed under arrest for the double murders.
Lloyd Avery II
"Instead of just being a Hollywood-like studio gangster, he was living it" said Ché. "My brother turned into a for-real for-real gangster," he added. It appeared Lloyd Avery never got over playing Knucklehead #2 and it really was a case of art imitating life, with him living the same type of lifestyle as his gun wielding character in Singleton's film. Ché Avery likens his brother's descent into gang-life to that of Tupac Shakur, "I like to call it the Tupac Syndrome", he says, "He (Lloyd) felt like he had something to prove when he really didn't. Even if you have money and fame, you will sacrifice all of that just to have respect from a bunch of thugs." Whilst Avery was awaiting trial, he was incarcerated at the North County Correctional Facility and there he found God, and spoke often with the prison Chaplain about what he was reading in the bible. He would regularly attend Church service on Sundays, and was always seen sitting in the front row during bible study.
After two years at the jail he went to trial and was found guilty for the double homicide and sentenced to life imprisonment. Avery was transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison where he would serve out his sentence, and from where continued his religious conversion. He would often attempt to spread God's word to his fellow inmates, and it is believed this is what caused his death. His cellmate, Kevin Roby, was a paranoid schizophrenic and a Satan Worshipper who had been sentenced to life imprisonment for the sexual assault and murder of his sister while trying to appease Satan. Avery had apparently tried to covert Roby, albeit unsuccessfully and was warned by him to stop preaching about God. On 4 September 2005, 36-year-old Avery was hit over the head and strangled to death by his cellmate, who used his body in a sacrificial ritual. It would take two days before correctional officers found his mutilated body in their cell, laying on top of a pentagram Roby had drawn for his ritual. For this brutal murder, Roby would received another life sentence. Lloyd Avery II had chosen to live a violent life and ended up dying a particularly violent death.
Written by Nucleus
Written by Nucleus