Editor’s Note – The 30-year-old Cincinnati native Ja’Marr Chase has been out on the streets of New York for nearly two decades; now, in his early 20s, he’s still finding ways to stay in the public eye, going on trial next month for the alleged murder of a Brooklyn bartender in 2015. View as list View as gallery Open Gallery Ja’Marr Chase is alleged to have shot a Brooklyn bartender in the head in 2015. (Photo: New York Police Department) Ja’Marr Chase is alleged to have shot a Brooklyn bartender in the head in 2015. (Photo: New York Police Department)
(CNN) – Ja’Marr Chase knows a thing or two about balancing work and play.
The 30-year-old Cincinnati native, who grew up in an all-white, upper-middle-class community in the city’s West Side, has been out on the streets of New York for nearly two decades.
Now, in his early 20s, he’s still finding ways to stay in the public eye. He works two jobs, sleeps with an Xbox in his room and loves the fast-paced world of artists’ galleries. And if you believe his posts, he’s a pretty good football player.
The lively crime reporter
Like Jay-Z, Chase is both a well-known star and a star in the making, a character with an encyclopedic knowledge of hip-hop and the fashion world whose posts chronicle his world of temptation and achievement.
I met Chase in the summer of 2007, when he was 21 and working as a night-shift corner clerk at a Dollar General, hanging out at the bank with people walking out carrying wads of cash, then stumbling home into the frigid sidewalk while jogging. One of the cashiers said she would never hire him because of his criminal record, dating back to the grand theft auto rap he’d gotten as a teenager, but she was kind enough to teach him how to make repairs to her sewing machine.
After buying a house, Chase decided to become a crime reporter — and went on to help break the story about the killing of Eleanor Bumpurs by a serial arsonist. She was his cousin. He photographed the aftermath of her burning body, and the man who confessed to the crime.
In one of his posts, he told readers he used to make $70,000 a year as a licensed forklift operator for a car-parts company, with a strict workout regimen that included about an hour of runs and lifting weights twice a week.
And then there’s this gem: He loves to do 50 push-ups — in alphabetical order.
‘Weird, funny world’
When he’s not trying to get up close and personal with music stars, he’s working two jobs and turning tricks at the bodega in Red Hook, Brooklyn. His poor sleep habits keep him from enjoying some of the finer things in life.
“The people I hang out with are weird, funny, creative, and it’s not always the $20,000 (moguls),” he says in a Facebook video. “When you are in Brooklyn, you can find a lot of weird, funny people, but also find a lot of hard-ass people. Just people with attitude, people who are edgy.”
In New York, Chase says, when he really wants to be part of something, he can spend up to 24 hours talking with a popular rapper in the lobby or heading to the studio, then back to the Bodega to cook tacos.
But he’s not about to tiptoe up to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s upcoming wedding, tweeting out a picture of their engagement. He hates “the whole VIP thing” too much.
“If you walk up to someone and tell them your last name, they are like, ‘Awesome. You want a new phone?’ “
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