Chicago Outlaws' Desmond Bailey: A Goalie, Rapper and Produce Clerk
ANDERSONVILLE — Desmond Bailey describes his personality as "colorful," but that doesn't seem to do it justice.
The 26-year-old starting goalie of the Chicago Outlaws box lacrosse team wears a "Wayne's World" hat and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" T-shirt before games. His jersey number since playing goaltender at Mather High School has been 69.
He's also a professional rapper, aka "Baercoonewokk" — after a character from the movie "Inglourious Basterds" — what many would say is a blatantly racist term for a black person and a misspelled forest-dwelling creature from "Star Wars."
"He's a unique character," Outlaws forward Ryan Knautz, of Gold Coast, said of Bailey. "And he is also the most popular player on our team."
For the last two years, Bailey has been with the Outlaws, who will compete in this weekend's Continental Indoor Lacrosse League Championship Cup tournament in Michigan. He was a backup in 2012 but earned the starting role this season.
"The kid absolutely loves the game," Outlaws forward Zack Dorn said. "He puts his all into it."
Said team president Ray Kincaid: "There are very few Desmond Baileys in this world, and we are privileged to have him on the Outlaws."
Bailey grew up in Rogers Park, where his father introduced him to ice hockey by showing him countless videos of Hall of Fame defenseman Bobby Orr. His hero was legendary NHL netminder Patrick Roy, and Bailey wanted to be the African-American version of "Saint Patrick."
Bailey was a youth hockey goalie but switched to lacrosse in high school because Mather didn't have a hockey team.
"I want to live my hockey dreams as a kid through lacrosse," Bailey said.
Life in the indoor lacrosse league is not exactly glamorous, as Bailey lives with his parents in Bronzeville and moonlights as a produce clerk at a Jewel in Andersonville. Bailey also said he pays $500 to dress for the Outlaws, who play their home games in suburban Naperville and Hoffman Estates.
Box lacrosse is extremely popular with Canadians and native Americans, but there are only two black players in the Continental Indoor Lacrosse League, including Bailey.
Knautz said Bailey doesn't view racism like most people and consistently makes jokes about himself because he's the Outlaws' lone black player. And Bailey views unusual rap name as something "cool."
"A lot of people [thought] that it was racist, but I didn't see the race aspect of it," said Bailey, who has self-produced two albums: "Warren Park," named after the North Side park where he spent much of his childhood, and "Goon Hand," a hat tip to hockey brawlers.
The CILL is a minor league of sorts for the National Lacrosse League, the top indoor circuit in the world.
Bailey has aspirations to reach the summit, but knows he has a great deal of work remaining.
"I'm in the middle of where I want to be in lacrosse," he said. "I want to take it to the next step."