Kody Scott Biography

Criminal, Journalist, Thief (1963–)
Kody Scott (a.k.a. Shanyika Shakur) published his bestselling book, Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member, in 1993.


Born in Los Angeles in 1963, Kody Scott joined the 83 Gangster Crips at age 11. He earned the nickname "Monster" at 13 by brutally beating a robbery victim. By 1988, he had been in and out of jail several times, for robbery, assault and attempted murder. During a stint in solitary confinement, he penned his best selling book, Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member (1993).

Early Life

Infamous gang leader. Born Kody DeJohn Scott in 1963 in south central Los Angeles, California, as the fifth of six children. His mother, Birdy, worked odd jobs to support the family. His father, Ernest Scott, left the family in 1970, but managed to keep a presence in his children's lives for several years after his split with Birdy. By 1975, however, Ernest left for good. Scott felt conflicted about his father's disappearance from his life - he suspected his biological father was actually NFL quarterback Dick Bass, and felt that Ernest resented him as a result. His new stepfather also proved less than supportive and, according to Scott, physically abused Birdy and the children.

Friendship with Tookie Williams

Scott turned to the streets for love and security, finding friendship with neighbor Stanley "Tookie" Williams. Williams also happened to be an early leader of the Crips, a notorious Los Angeles gang. Through Williams' tutelage, Scott earned an appreciation for the power and authority of gang life. At the age of 11, shortly after finishing the sixth grade at Horace Mann Junior High, Kody Scott underwent initiation rituals to become a member of the 83 Gangster Crips. He helped to steal a car, then shot and killed several rival gang members in a drive-by shooting.

Two years later, at the age of 13, Scott was responsible for beating a robbery victim so badly that police called it the "work of a monster." From that point forward, his fellow Crips members referred to him as "Monster" Kody, or just "Monster."

Prison Time

At the age of 16, Kody met girlfriend and future wife, Tamu Shakur, who was two years his senior. The next year, the couple had their first child. Despite the joy of his domestic life, Scott continued a life of murder and theft. On January 1, 1980, he was ambushed by rival gang members and shot five times. Scott survived the incident unfazed, and continued to add to his rap sheet, which included robbery, assault, and attempted murder. By 1988, he had been in and out of prison more than half a dozen times.

In an attempt to finally leave his life of crime behind, Scott moved his wife and two children into the Los Angeles suburbs. He began working at a local college in the financial aid department to support his family, but he couldn't resist the call of the streets. By the late 80's, Scott was back into gang life and, in 1991, he was arrested and imprisoned yet again, this time for assault and grand theft auto.


For his actions, Scott spent five years in solitary confinement at Pelican Bay State Prison, where he converted to Islam, renounced his violent ways, and changed his name to Sanyika Shakur. During this time, he also began writing his memoirs, Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member (1993). The book was published by an imprint of Penguin Books, and made Scott an instant celebrity.

Attempt to Go Straight

After his release from prison, Scott decided to leave his life of crime. He was also ordered by the courts to see a psychologist once a week, go to a psychiatrist once a month, and attend anger management. In 1996, despite the positive attention, Scott returned to prison after he was charged with violating parole for marijuana possession. Scott returned to Pelican Bay, where he served ten months. While in prison yet again, he developed a drug addiction and lost his marriage.

In March 2007, Scott landed on the city's most-wanted gang members list for allegedly breaking into the home of an acquaintance and beating him in order to steal his car. He was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department, and received a possible third strike that could have sent him back to prison for life. In May 2008, however, he pleaded no contest to the charges, and was sentenced to just six years in state prison. That same year he published his first work of fiction, T.H.U.G. L.I.F.E. A movie about his life is also currently in the works.

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