Friday, September 21, 2007

PULPWOOD SMITH, PART THREE from Nov. 2005 by Robert Preston, Jr.

Robert Preston, Jr.

Douglas Daily News

DOUGLAS – Andre “Pulpwood” Smith is in jail. Barely two weeks after Miriam Holland and I visited him in his Atlanta home, officers from the Fulton County Police Department took him into custody.

He is being held in the Fulton County jail without bond.

The exact circumstances of his arrest remain a mystery. All we know is that he is being held on two counts of burglary, and one count each of entering an auto and terroristic threats.

The rumor is that Pulpwood was picked up on outstanding warrants for these charges, but that story has not been confirmed. I do not know the circumstances surrounding his arrest. I only know that he is in the custody of the Fulton County Police Department, and he has been their property for about 10 days.

I have never denied that Pulpwood has a criminal record. When we first began searching for him, the first place we checked was the Department of Corrections. Smith wasn’t in prison at the time, but we learned that he had been in the past.

Pulpwood served about two months in prison in 1990 for two drug possession charges. Other than that, he has spent no time in the state penal system.

What we couldn’t find out was how many times he’s been locked up in the various county jails in the Atlanta area. That information isn’t readily available to the general public. I did learn that Pulpwood had been cited in early October for a charge of some kind, but I never was able to find out exactly what that charge was. He was written a ticket and released.

Apparently, though, he had more charges pending, charges that have now landed him behind bars.

To be honest, I’m not that surprised. Pulpwood has struggled with an addiction since he left the University of Georgia. Though his legal woes have been at least at some levels exaggerated, he has had numerous run-ins with the law, all of which are related to his addiction.

So does this change the way I feel about Pulpwood?

Not at all. And here’s why.

I find it impossible to stand in judgment of Andre Smith. I cannot fathom having to face the choices he had to make at such an early age. Smith had the talent to be a professional athlete before he could vote. He was surrounded by people who wanted something from him, people who wanted to capitalize in some way on his talent.

He was a big fish in a small pond at Coffee High. But when he went to UGA, he became a big fish in a big pond. And even more people attached themselves to him.

He couldn’t handle the pressure. He didn’t know where to turn. So he turned to the wrong things, and today, two decades later, he’s still reaping what he sowed back in 1984.

Does this mean that Pulpwood is not responsible for his actions? Not by a long shot. He made the wrong decisions. He exercised poor judgment. And he knows it. When we spoke with him, he readily admitted that he was responsible for where he was in life.

I will never dispute that Pulpwood has made mistakes, and he should be held accountable for those mistakes. But I can’t judge him for what he’s done. I have never been in a situation that remotely resembles where Pulpwood has been. Who knows? If I had been there, I might have made the same decisions.

And you might have, too.

Two weeks ago, I wrote that I didn’t think it was too late for Pulpwood. I still feel that way. He needs help. He needs help breaking his addiction and rebuilding his life. He has children that need to know their father. He has a wealth of knowledge that he could pass on to youth. Pulpwood is very good with children; I’ve seen him interact with kids.

Helping Pulpwood Smith would be risky. There’s no doubt about it.

But the Golden Rule says to treat others as you would like to be treated. Let me ask you this: If you were in Pulpwood’s shoes, wouldn’t you want help?

UPDATE: As noted in my post earlier, as of today, September 20, 2007, Pulpwood is living and working in Coffee County and has been for over 18 months.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found your article very interesting. I am the mother of the daughter mentioned in your article and was involved with him (and married to) for quite some time. I have seen many comments online that Andre couldn't read or write and quite frankly that is ridiculous! I have plenty of letters from him that prove otherwise. Interestingly enough, his daughter looks very much like him. From an early age (two), she developed well-defined biceps and has always been extremely muscular. At the present time she is a member of a competitive gymnastics team in Atlanta. She is in the gifted program at school and is also a straight-A student.

I hope that Andre grows enough to offer something positive to both of his children.