Born in prison to a drug-addicted mother, Tony Hampton was abused, had an I.Q. of 65, was bounced between relatives until he wound up in a group home. Then he found himself drunk, wacked out on ecstasy and with a gun in the parking lot of the Bottoms Up strip club in Brooklyn, Illinois.
It is hard to imagine another toxic ingredient to add to this mixture.
Salahudin Malik Robbins, 29, of Berkley, Missouri, did nothing to draw Hampton’s attention. He made the mistake of being in the wrong place at the wrong time on Dec. 12, 2015.
Hampton shot at the crowd, then shot Robbins. Surveillance video catches Hampton walking up to put a final shot in Robbins’ head.
Hampton’s 75-year sentence will mean prison is where he was born, and prison is where he will die.
We celebrate those who overcome tough beginnings. Hampton had neither gifts nor tools to allow him to do that.
But it is human to hope for a glimmer.
Maybe Hampton will find redemption before his death. Maybe he will train service dogs inside or save a guard or find faith.
Robbins is survived by a young son. It will be difficult without his dad, but someday he may be that person we celebrate because he was able to overcome tough beginnings.
It is an outcome worthy of hope.