Blinky Rodriguez is back at work, at least part time, managing a Van Nuys gym and promoting sports events. His voice sounds stronger; there are glimmers of the unfailing optimism that once pervaded his daily life.
Ten months ago, Rodriguez's 16-year-old son was killed in what police say was a gang shooting. The elder Rodriguez--a kick-boxing champion-turned-businessman--was plunged into the dark side of life.
He turned to his religion. And he turned to the Pacoima streets where Sonny was shot. Rodriguez launched the crusade of an anguished father, talking to as many kids as he could, trying to talk them out of gang life.
In the months since, Rodriguez has formed a team of volunteers who call themselves the Gang Intervention Special Tactics Force. Many of his workers are members of the Victory Outreach Church in Sepulveda, which prides itself on converting addicts and gang members.