Life after death: City names Clinton Hill hoops after rapper Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace

Life after death: City names Clinton Hill hoops after rapper Christopher ‘Biggie’ Wallace
Photo by Jason Speakman

It just loves his flashy ways!

The city named the Clinton Hill basketball courts where late rapper Christopher “Biggie” Wallace used to shoot hoops in his honor on Wednesday, commemorating the Brooklyn native as an inspiration for local youngsters just four years after the community blocked an attempt to memorialize him with a street co-naming.

“We started with a divided community and watched it quickly galvanize around the idea that young people need someone they can look up to, to show there’s a way out of any circumstance,” said Councilman Robert Cornegy (D–Bedford-Stuyvesant), who proposed the tribute to the nabe’s community board earlier this summer.

The pol grew up with Wallace and promised the hip-hop icon’s mother that he would continue to honor his legacy after the street co-naming bid fizzled. Community Board 2’s Executive Committee voted unanimously in June to greenlight Cornegy’s idea to name the hoops at Crispus Attucks Playground on Fulton Street and Classon Avenue after the rapper, who was shot and killed at 24.

The latest proposal, like the 2013 street naming attempt, drew criticism from some locals who argued the artist’s misogynistic and violent lyrics should disqualify him from receiving the tribute, but members of the advisory panel said it was time to move on and embrace the local legend.

A huge crowd descended upon the courts to celebrate the occasion, with kids shooting hoops as a disc jockey spun tunes including the rapper’s hit “Juicy,” which Cornegy requested to hype up people sitting in the sweltering sun.

Attendees included Wallace’s daughter, T’yanna, his cousin Lil’ Cease, local DJ and television host Uncle Ralph McDaniels — who produced the music video for “Juicy” — and radio personality Mister Cee, who said the musician wouldn’t believe that city blacktop bears his name.

“If you told him a basketball court was named after him he’d probably still say ‘Who me?!’ ” he said.

Fans thought differently, though, with one devotee calling it much-deserved day for his favorite hip-hop star.

“This was a monumental day for Brooklyn,” said Flatbush resident Fritz Valerus. “Christopher Wallace contributed so much to Brooklyn and his legacy still lives on, so we’ve got to come and support it to show his words were monumental for so many.”

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Future superstars: Kids shoot hoops on the same playground as Biggie Smalls.
Photo by Jason Speakman