I have seen many PRISON NICK NAMES AND often one’s particular nick name has an effect on their behavior, actions, or how they carry themselves. Sometime it’s positive, other times it’s negative. This isn’t always the case with everyone but it’s almost as if we inadvertently conform to what our peers call us.

Nick names in prison are widespread, some of these names are created to hide real identities, and some are given by “friends” based upon looks, size, Geographic’s, or afiliation. Some are named because of their family, habits, hoods, even their appetites. These names tend to explain or clarify who we were, are, or hope to be.

I’ve met Hungry, Tiny, Slim, Butter, Smooth, Shady, Big Dog, Loco, Catfish, Shotgun, Skinny, and that’s just a few. A large number of prison nick names derive from or are derivative of last names.

That was the case with me. I was known through my neighborhood and city as HUNTER, Hunter being my last name. People didn’t even know what my first name was; they called me Hunter, Big Hunter, Hunt and Big Hunt. I don’t know who started the name but it stuck.

I loved that name and the persona I CREATED to match it. Big Hunt rollen, riding, pushing through the city! Unfortunately or maybe fortunately for me it wasn’t meant for me to keep that nick name. The Universe had other plans for my nick name and so did the United States Government.

Let me first take you on a short journey to the past. I was the owner of a Tattoo Parlor. At this time everything was all about PLATINUM, Platinum watch, chain, grill, credit, Platinum FUBU, Platinum plaques etc. My parlor was the very first tattoo shop in the West Side of Dayton Ohio. In order to be instantly noticed I called it “PLATINUM TATTOO’S”. The name said it all, we are the top of the line, top shelf, and it also told people we had swag! We opened a new shop and to celebrate I had the best artist i knew tattoo a big bright -red,blue,purple, and white piece on my neck. It was a BIG money sign ($), with the word “PLATINUM” in graffiti writing. When i say big i mean big I ‘m 6’3” 275 and it covered the entire left side of my neck. It was bold and you could read it from across the club. It was a statement about Big Hunt. “I got Platinum Tattoo’s, a Platinum tattoo and a Platinum chain. Naw I’m lying it was white gold but i kept it clean.

My jaw dropped when i read the name that the confidential informant made up for me. I laughed, got mad, and then laughed again till i cried. “THE PLATINUM CREW”, 14 years later I’m still laughing. The jury went for it, and this big old tattoo did not help matters much either i must admit.

As i began to serve a 420 month federal sentence I received a letter one day. A friend had Googled my name and mailed me the results: “Leader of the Platinum Crew sentenced to 35 years today”, I showed my homeboy’s and from that day forward i was Big Platinum. Plat, Platinum, even El’ Platino. People would ask me about the name and i would always joke that it was just my stripper name.

With the weight of such a heavy sentence on my shoulders I stumbled through the years, not looking to find me but rather hoping to survive. Big Plat did exactly what Big Hunter had done. Big Platinum rollen, riding, and pushing through the YARD. The only problem with this was that the life Big Hunter lived is the life that got me this 35 year mountain that needed to be moved.

One day my eyes were opened, I stopped stumbling and found the Way; I set my feet to this positive path. I briefly considered parting ways with the nick name Big Platinum but remembered that I had called my tattoo parlor this because Platinum was higher quality, more expensive, more valuable, and better than even Gold. It was the pinnacle. Wasn’t I on higher, more valuable, better path? I kept the name. Big Plat was a hustler but my new actions were re-defining Platinum. I began fighting for the freedom of myself and others, I studied and sought out knowledge. My actions were now lining up with the quality of the name I had given my tattoo shop so long ago.

Now Platinum was Productive, Positive, Persistent, striving for Perfection he is an advocate and fighter for freedom, a sharer of knowledge committed to helping those in danger of getting a prison nick name. Platinum will feed the poor or save a child and he will speak eloquently against this oppressive system.

Be careful of what you allow yourself to be called, words have power but your actions make YOU not your nick name. “PLATINUM WAS THE NAME THAT THEY GAVE ME” but it was up to me to define who BIG PLATINUM was !! — C.H.

Return to The 1000 Stories Project