Skip to content Skip to footer

How Tony Farmer went from high school star, to jail meme, back to NBA hopeful

Like any casino list, life has a habit of showing us that at any moment, any decision you make can impact your entire existence. Sometimes these decisions are as clear as day while other times you might never see it coming.

Either way, these decisions can make or break someone’s entire life.

A young man from Cleveland, Ohio named Tony Farmer had to experience the impact of his decisions back in 2012.

Playing for Garfield Heights High School, Farmer was a star player

During his time on the team Farmer was a 4-star recruit and ranked one of the top #100 high school players in the U.S. The 6’7″ small forward had a bright future as the talent was definitely there.

The 17-year-old prospect was on the road to success until an incident involving him and his ex-girlfriend became violent. Farmer was charged with domestic abuse and kidnapping after he was caught on video harming his ex.

Then he became the infamous “BRUH” meme

It was clear he committed the crime and at that point, was at the mercy of the judge. The victim herself testified against Farmer but pleaded that he not be sent to jail. The judge ultimately decided that Tony Farmer would serve three years in prison for his crimes.

Just like that, Farmer’s future was decided. The possibility of college was no more and jail would become his reality for the next 3 years of his life.

Farmer was wrong and as a young Black man, he should have known better. In the world we live in, second chances aren’t for those who look like him or me.

Instead of making a good decision Farmer allowed himself to become much more vulnerable to getting his future stripped away.

The judge wanted to teach Tony a lesson and Judge Pamela Barker did just that. Other cases of similar age and severity are handled much differently when circumstances change.

Brock Turner, the Stanford swimmer who sexually assaulted a young woman, was given six-months jail time because it was his first offense. Ethan Couch killed four people in a drunk driving accident and was given 10 years of probation with zero jail time.

The deciding factor in these cases is that Ethan and Brock are white with money while Farmer is neither.

By no means are Farmer’s actions defensible. He was wrong and should be punished for his decisions. My point is that as a young person of color, the system is set up to strip you of your opportunities at a whim.

In an unexplained rage Farmer ruined his life. In teaching him a lesson, Judge Pamela Barker ruined his opportunities.

In June of 2015 Farmer was released from prison. Soon after getting out he began playing basketball for Lee College. The fact that he came out of prison and was able to put himself right back in the game is incredible.

As a freshman in 2015-16 Farmer averaged 16.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. In his second season, he bumped those numbers up to 17.4 points, 9.5 boards and 3.2 assists a game.

Although having a rough start, Farmer has taken back his dreams. Within five years he’s been a top high school athlete, sentenced to prison, and an All-Conference collegiate player. He’s proved his worth and is definitely still balling out.

His story serves as a reminder that young men of color will have to work harder than others. As much as that statement hurts it has to be taken as fact.

After a life-ruining decision Tony Farmer proved he would not give up. His resilience along with his skill proves him to be a valuable player for any professional team.