City Paper is not for tourists
A mountain of a man, Gregory Baldwin is waiting for Gilbert Arenas. Like the guy he’s here to support, the 6-foot-2 Baldwin (with the girth to fill out the frame, and then some) is a sharp dresser. His tan slacks and shirt are accessorized by a gold locket containing a picture of his youngest son. His duds may not compare to the expensive designer suit the Wizards player will certainly have picked out for his court appearance this day, but with a brown overcoat and cap pulling his ensemble together, Baldwin is no slouch.
“Me and him could make a great team together,” Baldwin says of Arenas. “I got the testimony, he’s got the power.” Baldwin says that’s why he’s standing outside courtroom 212, waiting to be let in. He’s there to support his potential teammate at his sentencing.
And what leads Baldwin to believe the two of them may suit up together? Apparently, Kenneth Wainstein, Arenas’ attorney, told him so. Wainstein also asked him to show up at Areanas’ sentencing—so here he is. Baldwin says Wainstein is going to tell the judge how Arenas—if he gets community service instead of three months’ incarceration for bringing four unloaded weapons to the Verizon Center (as a prank or to settle a gambling dispute, depending on which version you believe)—will get right to work for Baldwin at his Ward 8 nonprofit: Helping Hands Inc. Through Helping Hands, Baldwin will facilitate speaking engagements for the NBA star, so he can explain to at-risk D.C. youth “how just touching a gun” leads to trouble.
Baldwin would know plenty about how guns lead to trouble. He’s been shot 10 times. Baldwin says he was riddled with bullets on two different occasions—both times by the same shooter. Four times, the first time. Six, the second. The shooter was after him because of a “woman I tried to get to know,” he explains. The story seems far-fetched until Baldwin rolls up his shirt to reveal scars, and more scars. He even offers a disturbing tactile experience to prove what he’s been through. Right above his elbow crease, under healed skin, a bullet bulges out. When you touch it, it slides around.
In any event, the trauma Baldwin’s body has been through is exactly why he wants to warn kids about guns and violence. He believes Arenas has the star power to make sure they show up to hear that warning. He can hardly believe Arenas won’t do it. Baldwin pulls out pictures of him and Wainstein at what appears to be an event for Helping Hands. He says he and Wainstein embraced.
When Baldwin talks of how Arenas shouldn’t have to go to jail, how that would take away from the time he could spend doing good for the community, he brings his bulk close and talks in a booming voice. Asked whether he thinks Arenas will help out at his non-profit no matter what happens, Baldwin seems to deflate over the possibility he won’t. “That’s what we’re hoping.”
When Arenas saunters through the courthouse hallway flanked by security, he doesn’t seem to notice Baldwin or anyone else. He blows by in a blue suit with yellow pinstripe shirt and blue tie, smiling.
Once inside the courtroom, however, plopped down next to Wainstein, Arenas looks the picture of regret. At the end of the hearing, the speech he gives Judge Robert Morin seems to bring him to the verge of tears.
“I would like to start off by saying, you know, I am very sorry, you know, that this all happened. Every day I wake up wishing that it didn’t. You know, I thought by lying, screwing the truth that I can protect—I consider family, I’m with my teammates more than I am with my own family. So I figured since I caused it all, I can fix it by taking the fall. I know it wasn’t right but I would rather keep a friend, keep a teammate and lose everything else. And I know my actions, you know, wasn’t the best for me, you know, by, you know, taking it, you know, lightly.”
To Baldwin’s relief, the player skates: 18 months suspended sentence; two years probation; 30 days at a halfway house; 400 hours of community service.
During the sentencing, the judge sets some guidelines for the community service:
“As a condition of probation, you’re to do 400 hours of community service at not less than 100 hours per month. The community service cannot be a basketball clinic but must include presentations to youthful offenders about the dangers of violence and firearms.”
That would seem to be good news for Baldwin—but something has gone wrong. During the entire court proceeding, Wainstein doesn’t mention Helping Hands once. At the end of the hearing, after everyone has cleared out, Baldwin lingers in the hallway, looking deflated again.
Contacted today, Baldwin is in a good mood. He says Wainstein has already been in touch, and the lawyer wants him to come to his office on Wednesday morning. “So we can negotiate,” says Baldwin.