In the fall of 1990, Lonnie Allen was listed as one of Colorado's top prep football prospects.
The year before, he helped Manual High School go to the state semifinals, averaging 5.6 yards a carry as a fullback.
But he was also a member of the Rolling 30 Crips, recruited as a seventh-grader at Cole Middle School by one of the gang's founders, Michael Asberry.
It's an association he regrets and said he has put behind him.
"I wish I had never even known what a Crip gang member was," Allen said. "I say that because once people find out that's your M.O., they kind of look at you differently."
He is serving a 15-month sentence in state prison after giving his uncle's name when he was stopped for a traffic violation because he had an outstanding warrant. It was a felony. It is the first time Allen has been in prison after serving several stints in county jails for forgery and theft.
Asberry picked Allen for the fledgling gang in 1986 after he saw how he handled himself during a fight at school, Allen said.
Allen said his first love was sports and he stayed on the fringes of the gang.
"I was into sports. I hung around with them after school stuff, like," he said. "I didn't go to all the major functions."
Asberry and other gang members took pride in Allen's football accomplishments, he said. They came to the football games in droves and yelled as he was interviewed by the TV reporters after the games, he said.
"It was just because they grew up with me and were happy for me," Allen said.
A knee injury ended any chance of playing college football, he said. He was first arrested after he turned 18 years old, for carrying a gun.