Marcus Bell, known to many as “Big Ship” was born into a very spiritual and church going family. Raised in the city of Gardena, California, he strayed away from the spiritual heritage his mother and father instilled in him and by the age of 12 decided to take on the role as a gang member with the “Shotgun Crips”. Unbeknownst to Marcus, the lifestyle he had chosen would be full of pain, hurt, agony and self-destruction. During this time, he experienced every negative aspect of the gang lifestyle. He was in and out of juvenile hall and as he became older the county jail and subsequently, the penitentiary, all due to gang related activities. It was Big Ship’s last trip to prison in 1991 that he began to look introspectively at his self and his lifestyle. He realized that it was time for a change. This change would not only include his self, his attitude and life, but also the habits and routines that negatively affected his life and the life of others around him.
Upon his release from prison, Marcus began to realize and accept the fact that God had blessed him with many gifts. One of those gifts were singing which allowed him to pursue a career in music. Although he enjoyed music to the fullest, he still felt an emptiness in his heart. Marcus had an overwhelming compassion for his community and surrounding communities regarding the plight of gang violence. In 1992 during the Los Angeles riots Marcus began to push for peace on a local radio station known as KJLH. Through this endeavor, Big Ship had found his purpose in life. He wanted to teach former and active gang members through his example that no matter how negative their lifestyle has been, it is never too late to attain a full and meaningful life
Since realizing his true purpose and passion in life, Marcus has been a catalyst for gang awareness and intervention. He has been involved in two documentaries that have been released worldwide depicting Los Angeles Street life: Slob 187/ Crab 187 (1999) and Straight From the Streets (2000). Big Ship is a graduate of California State University Los Angeles with a certificate of completion in Youth and Gang Violence Intervention Specialist Training. He served as a facilitator of the Amer-I-Can Foundation through Unity One which he has been a part of for over 10 years. Marcus now teaches the Gang Life to New Life program, which is a life and management skills curriculum, in schools in his community, detention centers and other facilities. Big Ship is a shining example that success is not just for the elite..