By Medicinal Mike Boris
Growing up as the son of one of the most feared and respected drug kingpins the country has ever seen can seem like a dream come true from an outside perspective. But for 42-year-old Frank Lucas II, son of the Iconic gangster Frank Lucas Sr., depicted in the Denzel Washington movie “American Gangster,” it was just as much a curse as it was a blessing and he wouldn’t give it up for the world.
When Frank II was a young boy, he was kept hidden from the “gangster” lifestyle until around second grade when he realized that the life he was living was much different from the other children around him. Little Frank wore the finest clothing with a style way ahead of others his age.
Frank instantly became aware of the negative connotations, and the reactions to his image created by his father Frank Lucas Sr. From a very young age, Frank II was being groomed to become someone that would reflect his father’s commanding presence and possibly take over the family lifestyle.
But Frank II lost his father to prison around eight years old. The extreme trauma of child losing his father without understanding why definitely impacted his life.
“I was fading out the lifestyle, Dad was locked up,” Frank said. “I was challenged more from other kids. Kids would steal my coat; I learned how to get punched in the face and to punch back.”
Federal agents seized a reported 250 million, as claimed at the end of the film “American Gangster,” but Frank II laughed about the number.
“The lowest paid employee of my father made 150k almost daily. The amount they stated was incredibly downsized,” he said.
The loss of financial freedom to an 8-year-old who just lost his father was extremely hard to overcome. Every young thug that wanted to create a name for himself would challenge Frank daily, much like having a famous wild west gunfighter for a father.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” said Frank. “I learned how to become the man I am because of the trials of my youth.”
When asked if Frank ever wanted to become like his father, he said that he didn’t.
“No, I saw what the lifestyle did to my dad,” he explained. “He had his youngest son at the age of 66. I was a smart-ass growing up, and I knew that my dad was a different kind of man.”
“When I was a kid, my father left examples for me and would explain the very serious consequences of my behavior with people on his level,” Frank said with pride. “I learned to back up what I say, be aware of my actions. I learned respect.”
“I have a lot of my father’s traits,” he said. “He is a force of nature. Him just having the moxie to attempt to become the best at what he did definitely brings pride to our family. But—and Denzel Washington will back me up on this, I got a lot of his tough-guy traits, but nobody is like my father; he is truly one of a kind.”
Frank has to work extra hard to reinvent his perceived image. Everyone that learns of his family immediately succumbs to predisposed judgments about his own level of gangster; most wondering why he wouldn’t just pick up where his dad left off.
“It’s a due process we are proud to accomplish something that seemed impossible,” Frank explained. “To become a kingpin in New York as a black man in the times of the Italian mafia was unheard of. But to destroy families as you go along is not the way you want to do that. At that time the black culture only had access to limited revenue streams, and if you couldn’t play basketball and back up Jackie Robinson, then it was a life of drugs to make ends meet.”
“I’m not proud of it or making excuses for him, I have family that was hurt by the drug epidemic as well, so I can’t make excuses for him,” said Frank. “He didn’t get away scot-free, he got caught up as well. But at the end of the day, you got to respect his balls and moxie to do what he did.”
“I don’t respect the drugs, he continued. “People talk about alcohol like its respectable but people who are alcoholics damage their bodies and will be dead in just years. But they don’t like medicinal marijuana when it heals the body. Weed is the only substance I respect on that level. I’m not proud of the job he did, but I’m proud of what he achieved.”
“My father sincerely renounces that crap all day, and he means it, he really regrets it,” said Frank. “I don’t crucify my father at the end of the day. Anyone would like to have the balls to take a chance to be great. Not the drugs, but daring to be great.”
“Frank is still alive, and well, he’s too spiteful to pass,” he laughed. “He will curse me out and, I’ll curse him out and, we walk away. I’m the only one who can do that.”
When it comes to Frank’s children, he does everything a good father should like instilling in them the value of hard work.
“There are times when my children, especially after the movie released, would proclaim their desire to become just like their grandfather,” he said. “That’s when grandfather Frank Lucas Sr. sits them down to explain the consequences of his life and missing out on his children growing up.”
Frank commented that his dad would tell his grandchildren that, “Nothing in life is worth missing out on family.”
“Some of them were aware of the American Gangster film,” said Frank II. “But Dad is very involved with the grand-kids. Frank had to re-educate them when they say, ‘I want to be like grandpa,’ about the consequences of their actions, and his experience of going to jail while his kids are 5 or 6, then released when they are 25 and 26.”
“He broke it down,” said Frank. “Told them he has nightmares about all the things he has done and the regret he carries.”
“When you live a life like that, at some point you have to face your actions and contemplate how you affect the world around yourself,” he said. “Especially when you’re older, you reflect on what you achieved. And life is like this for all of us; nobody escapes this burden.
“As a father, my goal is to help my children achieve amazing personal goals but not to be a copy of their grandfather or anybody else,” said Frank II when talking of his own children. “None of my kids are named Frank Lucas III; I wanted to allow each of them to develop their own identity not be boxed in by their name.”
Frank has developed a strong music career thru Lucas Legacy, writing and producing other artists and has finally taken the initiative to work on his incredible sound. Frank also has his own television production under wraps, a clothing line, and a brand which he is currently developing named “Blue Magic, emphasizing the healing of the community rather than hurting it.
Follow Frank on Instagram: @franklucasg