With the Oscars rapidly approaching, it seems like a good time to look back on a Cougar connection to a film that had multiple nominations back in 1991. Boyz in the Hood is considered one of the best and most influential films of the last 25 years. It received nominations for both screenplay and director after its release in the summer of 91. Director John Singleton's film debut brought the music of NWA and west coast rap to the big screen in a tale that exposed the world to a culture most had never seen and been aware of.
Anchored by Stanley Clarke's powerful score (winner of the BMI film music award) and a soundtrack that went Gold the movie was one of the film highlights (along with New Jack City) of rap's golden age. It also introduced us to the talents of Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut (star of TV's "Rosewood) and future Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., as well as re-igniting Larry Fishburne's career. Chestnut is where the Cougar connection comes in.
He played the star running back Ricky Styles of Crenshaw high school who hoping to use his talent to escape South Central LA. In the movie a highlight film is shown to a college recruiter from USC. The running back on this video is former Cougar Kevin Hicks. Per a 1993 article in the Seattle Times Hick's explained how his coach made this happen.
During the filming of some scenes for "Boyz," the Crenshaw football coach was asked if he had some videotape of a great scoring run. The coach, Robert Garrett, remembered Hicks' run. "So I gave the tape to my high-school coach and he gave it to them," said Hicks, who went unrewarded except for seeing himself on film.
In a case of art imitating life Hicks came from a similar background as the on-screen character.
Growing up I had a lot of friends that were into gangs and selling drugs," Hicks said. "What kept me out of it was little-league football."
"For some people it's good to be in a place like Pullman because you're away from all that violence," said Hicks, who transferred from West Los Angeles Community College in 1992 and sat out last season. "But most guys like me get homesick because it's so different . . . so mellow. It's kind of hard to adapt."
Hicks rushed for 782 yards and 7 touchdowns in his two year Cougar career and also returned a kick for a touchdown. He was member of the famed 1994 team that featured the "Palouse Posse" and made an appearance in the Alamo Bowl. Hicks must have had a positive experience at WSU, because his nephew Xavier Hicks ended up enrolling in 2005 becoming a three year starter at Safety and receiving All Pac-10 honorable mention as a senior.
Here are the highlights that were used in the movie and some vintage Cougar ones to boot.
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