MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS —Troy Ave, the Crown Heights rapper facing felony charges in connection to a deadly nightclub shooting earlier this year, gave a talk to high school students at Columbia University Teachers College on Friday.
Troy Ave, whose legal name is Roland Collins, was a guest of Christopher Emdin, an associate professor in science education at Teacher’s College who is known for his writing on hip hop and education.
Emdin said he could understand why some might question his decision to invite as a motivational speaker a man facing serious felony charges. But more important to him, he said, was the chance to show his students the potential for redemption.
"Troy Ave has a certain charm that a lot of the people I work with just don't get to hear," he said. "Young people of color don't really get second chances, so if I can be part of that process, and help him motivate others in return, I'm going to do that."
Troy Ave spoke to a room full of rapt students, mostly steering clear of discussing the pending charges against him or the incident at Irving Plaza, except to briefly show off his ankle monitor — paired with a spikey, black Louboutin sneaker.
"I had to fight for my life, and now I'm fighting for my freedom," he said.
He encouraged the students to work hard.
"The same hustle that I applied first on the streets and then to rap, that can apply to anything," he told the students. "Anything you want in life is within reach if you apply that hustle."
Troy is currently free on $500,000 bail, and faces charges of attempted murder and weapons possession stemming from a deadly shooting at Irving Plaza on May 25, in which his friend and bodyguard Ronald McPhatter was killed and three others, including Troy Ave, were wounded.
Police arrested Troy Ave on May 26 at NYU Langone Hospital, where he was being treated for gunshot wounds to his legs, after releasing surveillance video from the concert hall that showed him firing at least one shot from a handgun as bystanders dive for cover.
He was released on bail in July, but is barred from performing or even stepping foot in any nightclubs, concert halls, or bars. Those bail restrictions have been financially crippling Troy Ave, according to his lawyer, who has been trying to negotiate a less restrictive bail package.
The New York Post reported that the lawyer, John Stella, was close to getting the performance ban lifted. Stella did not immediately respond to a request for comment.