East End (Newport News, Virginia)

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Coordinates: 37°0′0″N 76°26′11″W / 37.00000°N 76.43639°W / 37.00000; -76.43639 The East End is an area of the independent city of Newport News, Virginia.

Located in the older portion of the port city near the harbor of Hampton Roads, the East End is characterized by coal storage and shipping facilities, dock areas for small fishing and sightseeing ships and tugboats, and low income housing. The residential portion includes public housing projects is considered a financially depressed and crime-ridden neighborhood.

The area is notable for being the childhood home of brothers Michael Vick and Marcus Vick, who initially gained notoriety with their talents and success in high school football at Newport News Public Schools under Coach Tommy Reamon. Although each won scholarships to play football at Virginia Tech, neither completed their educations there.

Both Vick brothers played professionally for the NFL for a time, where Michael achieved great success and gained considerable wealth while playing for the Atlanta Falcons. Marcus was never selected in the NFL drafts, and ended up as a free agent. Despite their achievements, the brothers each became involved with traffic and criminal problems, notably the Bad News Kennels Dog Fighting incident. The latter resulted in a highly publicized "fall from grace" for Michael Vick, who was convicted of a federal felony charge in 2007 and was in federal prison and awaiting trial on several state felony charges as of June 2008. Marcus Vick has also had continuing traffic and criminal problems since leaving Virginia Tech in early 2006 after he was dismissed from the Virginia Tech football program by University President Charles Steger following the 2005 season "due to a cumulative effect of legal infractions and unsportsmanlike play".[1] After leaving Virginia Tech, Vick declared himself eligible for the NFL spring draft in 2006, but was not selected.[2]

A 2007 newspaper article published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch noted "not much changed" by observations of local people almost ten years after Michael Vick left. One resident said that there is drug dealing, drive-by shootings and other killing in the neighborhood, and suggested that sports was a way out and a dream for many.[3] In a 2001 interview, Vick told the Newport News Daily Press that when he was 10 or 11 "I would go fishing even if the fish weren't biting, just to get out of there" and away from the violence and stress of daily life in the projects. Even though the area is, by all accounts, troubled, several people interviewed were disbelieving that dog fighting was a local activity there.[3]

In 2008, Newport News native Aaron Brooks, an older cousin of the Vick brothers who graduated from Homer L. Ferguson High School, attended the University of Virginia on a football scholarship, and has been an NFL player, announced plans to invest in a redevelopment project in his hometown. In a story published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune newspaper in July 2008, he said there are plans in store for him and some partners to redevelop part of downtown Newport News, a city that shares many of the same social problems that plague New Orleans. [4] The multimillion-dollar investment will be a mixed-use development between Jefferson and Terminal avenues and 33rd and 29th streets in the economically depressed East End area. [5]

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