How an Infamous ‘Boyz N the Hood’ Cameo Led to Real-Life Murder
After pulling the trigger in Hollywood’s most ominous drive-by, Lloyd Avery II began to mirror the lifestyle of the gangster he portrayed on-screen. But the late actor’s demise is much deeper than life imitating art.
Based on numbers alone, Lloyd Avery II’s character in Boyz N the Hood is a minor role. Four scenes. About eight lines of dialogue. At most, two minutes of screen time. He’s listed in the credits as Knucklehead #2, but fans of the film know him as the Blood who shot Ricky. He’s best remembered emerging from that cardinal red Hyundai clutching a sawed-off shotgun like he’s death incarnate, set to perpetrate one of the most tragic movie murders of all time. Radiating intensity, Avery’s charisma elevates this nameless henchman into an iconic villain.
“Lloyd had a presence that I think was undeniable,” says Robi Reed, the veteran casting director known for her work with Spike Lee and other Black filmmakers. “When people refer to that ‘it’ factor, it’s really intangible — you just know when you see it.”
Avery’s breakthrough occurred in one of the most important films of the 1990s. Boyz N the Hood earned John Singleton, its 23-year-old writer and director, Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. It also made a ton of dough (more than $57 million at the domestic box office against a $6 million budget) and catapulted the film careers of Singleton, Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, and future Academy Award winners Cuba Gooding Jr. and Regina King.
Boyz N the Hood changed Avery’s life as well. But all he got was a rep. Soon after the film’s 1991 release, Avery moved into the Jungle, a Bloods-affiliated neighborhood in South Los Angeles, where he was said to have connections with the Black P-Stone set. He often wore red with Chuck Taylors and khakis and grew so affixed to the streets that he had “JUNGLEZ” tattooed above his left eyebrow. In other words, the actor who played the Blood who shot Ricky had turned…