First up to bat . . . Chunichi CROWNING MISS BABY MaMA Definition of a "baby mama": That chick who will spite the current girlfriend or wife of the man she had a child with (aka baby daddy), and who will be connected to and able to get what she wants out of the baby daddy for life! Whoever thought a hood rat, guttersnipe young bitch like me would be rocking this nigga's world? I thought as I watched Li'l Man walk to the bathroom ass-naked. I'd just given him some of the most amazing sex of his life. The one thing that he loved about me was that I was a young thang who hadn't been passed around like some of these old chickenheads cluckin' around, so the punany was fresh. And unlike the old heads, I can be folded into any pretzel position his little heart desires. Meeting Tyrone Simmons, known in the streets as Li'l Man, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a nothing-ass crumb snatcher like me. I know it sounds harsh, but it is what it is. According to many psychologists, the first step to progress is acknowledging your faults. That theory alone has done the most to bring me to where I am in life. To understand me, one must study my game: the sweet roll of the dice that it took to make Li'l Man fall for me. But first, let me tell you the history behind my so brilliantly played game. Although Li'l Man was born and raised in Tidewater Park in Norfolk, Virginia, just as I had been, he was fortunate enough to have reached extreme heights. He was no longer living in the concrete walls that kept the bullets out and the roaches in the Park. "Park" is the name Norfolk city officials have so generously given the projects to create some sort of false image. They put up white picket fences, hoping to convey the idea of a park. Unfortunately, the projects are quite different from the parks where there are happy families spending sunny days in green grassy fields flying kites and having picnics. In the projects there are dark brick blocks that cast an everlasting shadow. The green grass is replaced with dirt paths leading through alleyways used as quick getaways from the cops and as hideouts for hos and addicts. The smiling faces have been replaced with faces of praying grandmothers who look upon unhappy families, including a cracked-out daughter, a locked-up son, and an HIV-positive grandbaby. One thing for sure: Just like the park, the projects are full of games. But the games of the projects aren't jump rope, or hopscotch, or ring-around-the-rosy. It's more like a variation on hide-and-seek: nigga's in the cut waiting to move on the next nigga by surprise. Games of tag and dodgeball in the Park are niggas getting shot and dodging bullets. For the chicks, it's a game of chase: Everybody's after that nigga with a little bit of drug money or chasing behind that deadbeat baby daddy. So people like me and Li'l Man have been programmed to be a product of this jungle that the outsiders label as a fun-filled "park." Generations of families living in the Park have bred a certain kind of man and woman. Conveniently, the Park has a single entrance and exit to keep us in and them out. We have our own stores and restaurants and even our own elementary schools. Until we reach our teenage years and go off to middle school, we're trapped in this box referred to as the Park. Unaware of how the world operates outside our box, we've developed our own way of thinking according to how our world operates. Even though we're now out of the box, we operate as if we weren't, treating every situation as though we were still living in the Park. For some this outlook gets them locked up, but for others it gives them the strongest sense of survival. In Li&Turner, Nikki is the author of 'Girls in the Game ', published 2007 under ISBN 9780345484024 and ISBN 0345484029.