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The best – and as it turns out, the funniest – piece of evidence the Black South Florida community was ready for Lionel Messi was the local viral meme of Messi smiling, complete with a full I-95 gold grill.

So much different from the photo Inter Miami FC forward Messi posted in December 2022 of himself holding the World Cup aloft to then 400 (now 491) million followers, dethroning, believe it or not, a stock photo of a brown egg as the most-liked Instagram post of all time.

Welcome to Miami!

It’s clear another greatest of all time has entered the conversation. Even if Inter Miami FC failed to make the MLS playoffs, the arrival of the Argentinian soccer great Messi is an opportunity to explore and examine his impact from a Black perspective, in and around the pitch.

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Black Herons United tailgate outside the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Black Herons United

Here’s who is in the stands

The South Florida Black diaspora community is a diverse and vibrant population that encompasses individuals and families who have migrated from countries and regions with African heritage. This diaspora has contributed significantly to the cultural, social, and economic fabric of South Florida.

According to the Pew Research Center, Miami has the seventh largest Black population in the U.S. Part of the Black Herons’ (Inter Miami FC’s independent supporters group) mission is to create “a fully and totally inclusive community anyone can join, no matter race, gender, sexual orientation, as long as you’re committed and are prioritizing and centering South Florida’s Black culture,” said Jermaine Scott, one of the Black Herons’ leaders.

The South Florida Black community encompasses a range of cultures, traditions, languages, and customs. It includes individuals and families from the Caribbean, Africa, and other regions, each with its distinct contributions that enrich the region’s cultural diversity. It exhibits a strong sense of unity and solidarity, supporting one another through shared experiences, celebrations, and challenges.

“Soon after Messi’s arrival we saw the club lean into its Latin American fan base. IMFC does a fantastic job of including them. You can do the same thing with the large Black population and Caribbean population that are already massive soccer fans, highlighting Black history of South Florida through football,” Scott said.

Messi’s arrival has supercharged the Black Herons in a way they have not seen.

“It’s hard to put into words. We all knew about his greatness but seeing him on the pitch has been mind-blowing,” Scott said. “Messi is here and it has given us all the energy to do more.”

The South Florida diaspora maintains strong connections to its African roots, celebrating its heritage through music, dance, food, art, and religious practices. This preservation of cultural traditions contributes to a sense of pride and identity.

When the Black Herons arrived on the tailgate scene, they brought a totally different cultural environment. Reggae and hip-hop, Jamaican patties, all the different Caribbean liquor. The vibe, the feel, the whole ting.

“How do we ensure the cultural translation into the Black community?” Scott pondered somewhat rhetorically, clearly embodying a different sense of what the team looks like.

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A Black Herons United fan at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Black Herons United

Followers have star power

It’s hard to argue there is anyone who understands stardom more than Kevin Frazier. The longtime Entertainment Tonight host, who has spent nearly two decades covering Hollywood’s biggest celebrities and stories, said it’s easy to see what is happening.

“It’s the star power,” Frazier said. “That is why we at Entertainment Tonight covered Messi when he came to LA because of all the stars that came out to see him and to take in the moment. That is a massive watershed moment for MLS. People who had no idea about the league or understand the league understood the best player in the world is here. And they had to see it.”

Frazier, who also was an anchor for ESPN and an NFL sideline reporter for Fox, added, “You saw the frenzy when he went to France [to play for Paris Saint-Germain FC], but it wasn’t anything like what we’ve seen in the United States.”

Not lost on Frazier is the opportunity Messi’s arrival presents to make deeper connections
with the Black community.

“By having that mass appeal audience, it puts more eyes on the game for Black people, especially when you have LeBron tweeting about it and other mainstream star power pulling closer,” Frazier said. “Look at rap music now. The sheer amount of Lionel Messi jerseys, the pink you see at concerts. That’s how I have seen his arrival permeate the culture. It’s the
jerseys. People all of a sudden need one of them. People recognize them and know what it is and that it is a MLS team.”

Messi’s star power elevates the profile of MLS and attracts a wider audience, including the Black community who may have previously felt disconnected from the league. With their historically low attendance in MLS stadiums, Black fans may now seek a stronger connection to the sport.

Frazier, who calls Los Angeles home and spends his weekends playing soccer dad to his soccer-crazed son, sees how the game has seeped into the culture in LA.

“I was at a LAFC [Los Angeles FC] game, and walked down to suite 10 where the celebrities are, it’s become the cool thing. And I saw Raphael Saadiq. And I was, ‘yo, look, that’s Raphael Saadiq.’ When you see someone like Raphael coming out to see LAFC, that is big, that is a real cultural crossover.”

Messi’s influence and impact extend far beyond the game itself, and his presence can be a catalyst. Seeing Messi’s greatness can help further spark a sense that Black community will be attracted to soccer.

“What is not happening and what needs to happen is there needs to be that consistent crossover to bring in Black stars and see them crossing moreover into Black cultural references. Now, Messi will pop into a rap line, but I want to hear a [defender DeAndre] Yedlin line.” Frazier said.

The arrival of a high-profile player like Messi can attract attention and investment from sponsors, clubs, and organizations in soccer. This increased focus can create opportunities for the development of grassroots programs, academies, and initiatives aimed at nurturing young Black talent.

Frazier, who watches his own son’s love for the game bloom in the shadow of the Los Angeles FC, has a clear idea of what is needed to bridge the gap between soccer and the Black American community at large.

“Access. There is no access,” Frazier said. “It is still a suburban game. Speed, quickness, agility, IQ, we have all of that, but the game isn’t accessible because they’re priced out and with limited training access. You don’t have those inner-city teams. Until they are created and figure out a financial model that trumps pay-to-play, we will miss this population.

“Rarely, if ever, in an inner-city school will they roll out a soccer ball. Think about that. In a city school, you will rarely see a soccer ball. When we give the opportunity for those kids to put their foot on the ball, it will change and it will change quickly, but you have to form those teams, those groups, those connections. When we focus there, when we create it, that’s when we will see a difference.”

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Argentina forward Lionel Messi (right) runs with United States midfielder Maurice Edu (left) during the first half of a match at New Meadowlands Stadium on March 26, 2011, in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

From the field to the booth

“When I was young, I was always trying to find ways to merge the two things that I was passionate about, which were soccer and hip-hop culture. There is already some movement in terms of more young Black kids recognizing that this game is dope. And Messi only adds to that.”
– Maurice Edu

Apple TV has changed MLS and American soccer television forever and former U.S. men’s national team standout Maurice Edu has taken in Messi mania firsthand.

“The timing of everything could not work out any better from an MLS standpoint, from an Apple standpoint, from a soccer in this country standpoint,” said Edu, who started for the United States at the 2010 World Cup.

“This is Messi; this is one of the biggest — not even just players, or athletes — one of the biggest and most popular people on the planet and, in my estimation, the greatest player to ever play the game. Thinking back to this summer, it is still kind of surreal and crazy to finally see it now happening in our country, in our stadiums.”

Edu echoed some of the same sentiments Frazier did when it comes to the connection to
the Black community at large.

“Seeing LeBron, all these different people that I look at with such admiration. People like Serena Williams, athletes who have achieved pretty much everything and entertainers that have achieved the highest accolades and to see them, I don’t want to say fanboy, but them being in awe, it was crazy to see, it was crazy to witness,” Edu said.

Edu said, “These are figures that are celebrated and championed in the Black community. You can see the impact that he has had just from the standpoint of broadening the reach of the game. It is also just an indication of who this man is to the sport and what opportunity we have in front of us for him to really help take this game to the next level.

“I think it’s so important that in this moment, that we’re living right now, we have to see the opportunity to make the most of him, of Messi being in our country, in our league, and how that can benefit and grow the game here.”

Edu chuckled over the thought of an Argentinean doing work to build that soccer bridge to the Black community.

“When I was young, I was always trying to find ways to merge the two things that I was passionate about, which were soccer and hip-hop culture. There is already some movement in terms of more young Black kids recognizing that this game is dope. And Messi only adds to that.”

Edu has emerged as one of American soccer’s prominent personalities and says the Messi effect has also found its way to the booth.

“Oh, yeah, most definitely the shows are elevated,” Edu said. “There’s a lot more, the buildup, we’re doing an hour pregame show, there’s a Messi ISO camera and all because we want to make sure that we’re telling the story in the right way, taking advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime asset that’s available to us.”

Edu, the No.1 overall pick in the 2007 MLS SuperDraft, who also spent a long spell with the famed Rangers FC of the Scottish Premiership, maintains his sharpened lens for the game on the field.

“I mean, it’s funny, right?” Edu said. “Everyone’s gonna talk about how much he walks? I think the trade-off is incredible. I think Miami is being clever on how they’re building that team because you’re gonna need legs around Messi, but when he gets the ball …

Edu trails off, lost in a rabbit hole of Messi highlights looping in his mind …

“Every touch is worth the price of admission.”


By: Allen Hopkins Jr.
Title: Lionel Messi’s impact on Black soccer in America
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Published Date: Wed, 08 Nov 2023 14:20:41 +0000

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Cassie and Husband Alex Fine’s Relationship Timeline

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline

Cassie and Alex Fine tied the knot less than one year after going public with their romance — and they’ve been going strong ever since.

“I felt really relaxed during the ceremony,” the singer, whose real name is Cassandra Ventura, told Vogue of the nuptials in October 2019. “As soon as I saw Alex, any nerves that I did have went away and I just couldn’t stop smiling.”

Cassie and Fine welcomed their first baby, daughter Frankie, two months after their wedding. Their second daughter, Sunny, was born in March 2021.

Keep scrolling for a look at Cassie and Fine’s love story over the years:

December 2018

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram
Cassie debuted her romance with Fine by sharing an Instagram photo of them kissing. The upload came two months after Cassie split from ex-boyfriend Sean “Diddy” Combs after dating on and off for 11 years. Cassie went on to sue Diddy in November 2023, claiming that the rapper began a pattern of control and abuse after they met in 2005.

“After years in silence and darkness, I am finally ready to tell my story, and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships,” she said in a statement.

Diddy vehemently denied the allegations.

“Mr. Combs vehemently denies these offensive and outrageous allegations. For the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Ms. Ventura’s persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail,” his lawyer Ben Brafman said in a statement. “Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs’s reputation and seeking a payday.”

Us Weekly confirmed one day after the lawsuit was filed that Cassie and Diddy reached a settlement.

June 2019

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram

Cassie announced that she and Fine were expecting their first baby.

“Can’t wait to meet our baby girl 💗 Love You Always & Forever,” she captioned Instagram snaps of herself and Fine in a car.

August 2019

Fine asked the “Me & U singer” to marry him with a cowboy-themed proposal. The professional bull rider wore a cowboy hat and rode a horse over to Cassie before popping the question.

“When he got down on one knee, everything just stopped,” Cassie told Vogue in October 2019 of the romantic moment. “I felt like I lost my sense of hearing. I saw just his mouth moving and he said, ‘I Want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ I will never forget how special Alex made me feel that night.”

September 2019

Two months after getting engaged, Cassie and Fine had a backyard wedding in Malibu.

“We wanted a simple venue with a beautiful view that felt warm and romantic,” Cassie told Vogue of the big day. “We wanted the aesthetic to reflect how comfortable and content we feel with each other.”

December 2019

The pair became parents with the birth of their daughter Frankie.

“I can’t explain the amount of unconditional love and adoration that I have for my family,” Casie captioned a September 2020 carousel of Instagram photos of herself and Fine with their newborn. “I wake up everyday so thankful and happy to have my own. I will never take it for granted and will always feel honored to be able to experience this kind of love. Slowing down and simply enjoying each other has been a motto for us. We don’t need a lot, everything we need is right here.

December 2020

Cassie announced that she and Fine had another baby on the way.

“Coming soon …,” she captioned an Instagram video of then-12-month-old Frankie rubbing her baby bump as Fine held her hand.

March 2021

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Casandra Fine/Instagram

The couple expanded their family with the birth of daughter Sunny.

“Welcome to the world baby girl! We love you so much Sunny Cinco Fine!” Cassie captioned a series of Instagram photos of her newborn.

March 2023

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Alex Fine/Instagram

Fine counted his blessings while commemorating his 30th birthday via Instagram, including “a wife I love [who] loves me” and “two babies that make my heart grow bigger every time they smile.”

August 2023

Cassie and Husband Alex Fine s Relationship Timeline
Courtesy of Casandra Fine/Instagram
Cassie penned a sweet tribute to Fine in honor of the twosome’s wedding anniversary.
“A day late, but had to make sure I showed ALL MY LOVE to this man! My husband! Happy 4th Anniversary to my Best Friend. There’s no one like you in this world,” the musician captioned a photo of the duo smiling.

She continued: “You have the biggest heart and the funniest sense of humor, your curiosity about life still surprises me and warms my heart everyday. I grow more and more and more and more in love with you as time goes on and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Most important of all, you’re only person that can actually make me laugh until I pee my pants – that says a lot. Thank you for loving me the way you do. I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH!! ♥♥♥♥.”

May 2024

After CNN shared resurfaced footage of Diddy allegedly assaulting Cassie back in 2016, Fine penned an open letter to his wife and family.

“I want my kids and every kid to live in a world that’s safe for women and girls, protects them and treats them as equals,” Fine wrote via Instagram. “To the women and children, you’re not alone, and you are heard. if you need help call the domestic violence hotline at (800) 799-7233.”

He continued, “Men who hit women aren’t men. Men who enable it and protect these people aren’t men. As men, violence against women shouldn’t be inevitable, check your brothers, your friends and your family. Our daughters, sisters, mothers and wives should feel protected and loved. Hold the women in your life with the upmost regard. Men who hurt women hate women.”


By: Sara Donnellan
Title: Cassie and Husband Alex Fine’s Relationship Timeline
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 17:41:30 +0000

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Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on

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Tiger Woods has always played to win. Since turning professional in 1996, he has won 82 tournaments, including 15 major championships. Perhaps, more astonishing than the victories and majors is the 142-event made cut streak that lasted over a seven-year period from 1998 to 2005, when he was the most dominant golfer that the game has ever seen.

Woods never said he was the greatest. He didn’t need to. “There is no sense in going to a tournament if you don’t believe that you can win it,” he once said.

Yet, coming into the PGA Championship at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, Woods was circumspect about his chances of hoisting his fifth Wanamaker Trophy. Asked about the state of his game, he admitted that he was rusty and that the barrage of injuries had taken a toll on his body. “I can still hit shots,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days.”

When the tournament began on Thursday, Woods, who was making his 23rd appearance in the PGA Championship, performed like the part-time player that he has become over the last several years. On his way to a 1-over par 72, the 48-year-old World Golf Hall of Famer hit a smattering of good shots but hardly kept pace in a first round that saw a record 64 players shoot under par scores.

“It’s just the competitive flow,” he said after the round. “It took me probably three holes to get back into competitive flow again and get a feel for hitting the ball out there in competition, adrenaline, temperatures, green speeds. These are all things that normally I adjust to very quickly, and it just took me a few holes to get into it.”

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Tiger Woods holds the Wanamaker Trophy after winning the 82nd PGA Championship on Aug. 20, 2000, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky.

David Cannon/Getty Images

By Friday afternoon, the tournament had been temporarily upstaged by the early morning arrest of Scottie Scheffler, the game’s No. 1 ranked player, for allegedly disobeying a police officer’s order at the entrance to the Valhalla Golf Club. Looking invincible like the Woods of old, Scheffler settled down after the shock of being handcuffed and hauled off to jail to shoot a 5-under par 66 to go into the weekend with a chance to win his second major of the year after taking the Masters last month. As Scheffler went off to answer questions about spending time in a Louisville holding cell, Woods was starting his round and would need a good one to avoid missing just his 15th cut in 93 major appearances.

Starting his second round two shots off the projected cut of 1 under par, Woods went seven over par in his first four holes to guarantee that he would miss the cut. It’s hard to imagine a worst scenario for a player already battling competitive rust and old age in a game dominated by much younger players. Here he was looking ahead to the next tournament, the next opportunity to show that he could still play at next month’s U.S. Open at Pinehurst, but stuck for five hours on a golf course where he had solidified his legend 24 years earlier in an epic duel with Bob May at the 2000 PGA Championship.

Back then when Woods was in the morning of his career, he turned the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla Golf Club into a theater with a two-act play and May as his benevolent antagonist. In the final round in 2000, they matched each other shot for shot, creating a drama unprecedented in televised golf history. Then in the three-hole aggregate playoff, Woods survived to win by one stroke. That victory at Valhalla was the third leg of the Tiger Slam, which climaxed when Woods won the 2001 Masters.

But these are different times in the game of golf. In 2000, the PGA Tour was in the beginning of a period of monumental growth as an outsized talent with a mixed racial heritage was transforming what had long been identified as a country club sport played mostly by white people. To many, Woods was the game and the PGA Tour was his home. Now, no longer the masterful player capable of holding your attention for hours on Sunday with his feats of excellence, Woods has become a senior statesman in the game and a defender of what he has helped to build in the sport over the last 30 years.

As the biggest name on both the PGA Tour Policy Board and the PGA Tour Enterprises Board, Woods has become one of the most powerful figures in negotiations between the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), which funds LIV Golf. During what is turning out to be a slow and painful exit from competitive golf, Woods is helping to set the direction of the future of the game.

At Valhalla, he took on his new role.

“We’re trying to make the PGA TOUR the best it can be day-in and day-out,” he said Tuesday. “That’s one of the reasons why we have arguments and we have disagreements, but we want to do what’s best for everyone in golf and the TOUR.”

About the PGA Tour’s negotiations with LIV Golf, he said, “we’re making steps and it may not be giant steps, but we’re making steps.”

Easily missing the cut at the PGA Championship after a six-over par 77 on Friday, Woods didn’t take any steps toward reclaiming a place at the top of the pecking order of the best players. At Valhalla, he still commanded the biggest galleries like he did when he won there 24 years ago. Back then, he was looked upon by many as the savior of the game, who gave an inspiring and life-changing sermon on Sunday afternoons with his golf clubs.

That seemingly ubiquitous presence on Sundays is waning, but his star still shines brightly over these players still playing on the weekend on a stage he set for them.


By: Farrell Evans
Title: Tiger Woods missed the PGA Championship cut but his legacy played on
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Published Date: Sat, 18 May 2024 16:07:58 +0000

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Revisit Amy Winehouse’s Celebration For “Rehab” Winning Record Of The Year In 2008 | GRAMMY Rewind

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When the world first heard Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ in 2006, the album changed pop music forever with its nostalgic, trauma-stricken grief, becoming her most enduring legacy. In honor of the beloved beehive-wearing chanteuse and the release of a new Winehouse biopic, also titled Back to Black, celebrates her life and timeless music. Look back at the 50th GRAMMY Awards in 2008, when she won her first five GRAMMYs, including Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year for “Rehab” as well as Best New Artist.

About the Recording Academy / GRAMMYs:
Recording Academy is the world’s leading society of musical professionals and is dedicated to celebrating, honoring, and sustaining music’s past, present and future.

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By: Recording Academy / GRAMMYs
Title: Revisit Amy Winehouse’s Celebration For “Rehab” Winning Record Of The Year In 2008 | GRAMMY Rewind
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