From pushing 1 lb of marijuana to tons to becoming a self-made millionaire, Rickey Lamonté Colley ran the streets for 15 years before it caught up to him and he was taken in by federal authorities. “It started off just to feed us and then I became good at it; I treated it like a business. After doing it for so many years, I became successful, and I became a millionaire,” Rickey shares.
In the black market it is far and few inbetween that individuals reach such a height of cash flow in the millions circulating throughout their operation; due to the intricate and complex nature of the business. His keen sense of business was noted and brought out during his pre-trial. Authorities of the federal government, baffled by his organization, went on to taunt him, “You could have run a Fortune 500 company, why did you choose this instead?”
Wit at the forefront and a life of fight and flight mode––Rickey hired a sentencing mitigator that was able to show mitigating circumstances due to his childhood history. The judge gave him a two-point downward departure, which gave him 97 months, as the judge explained that Rickey never had a shot at life; he didn’t know any better. “I had to speak up for myself because my lawyer was a dump truck. My original lawyer died during my pre-trial.”
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the ‘80 and 90’s was a time and place ravished by the effects of drugs. Unfortunately for Rickey, this was his reality, a painful addiction he saw firsthand through the life of his mother and other family members.
With his mom on and off drugs, they frequently moved around and changed schools. Family members occasionally helped out as they could, but at the end of the day, it was up to Rickey to keep the house afloat. From caring for his brother with sickle cell disease and other siblings to cooking and cleaning the house, he matured in ways unusual for a 10-year-old boy. He was forced to grow up before his time; due to his environment and extreme circumstances, he naturally progressed to selling marijuana at the young age of 17, as a matter of primal survival.
Despite the misfortune of time served, he sees his prison sentence as a blessing––it gave him a sense of structure he never had, and it provided him with the time to reflect on his life and ways he could turn himself around.
When Barack Obama allowed non-violent drug offenders relief, he was granted a 16-month reduction of his sentence, resulting in him serving only six years of his nine-year sentence. Rickey took the business acumen he acquired from the streets and put it towards building new legitimate businesses. Using his hardships as a motivator to start his new life, he reinvented himself through real estate, interior design and as the CEO of RSXCO Inc, a fragrance and luxury lifestyle brand.
He has repurposed his hustle by dedicating his life to building a legacy for his children, along with a desire to inspire underprivileged youth to stay on the right path and continue to follow their dreams despite their upbringing.
Rickey Lamonté Colley Growing up on the Wrong Side of Town
Rickey Lamonté Colley: I was born in ‘75, and I grew up in South Central LA in the 80s. My mom had me at 17 years old—she was a teenage mom and single parent. I grew up on the side of town where it was really rough and dangerous. Looking back on my childhood, I didn’t realize how bad things were until I became an adult. I grew up in an era where crack was very prevalent in our neighborhoods. This had wiped through a lot of prominent people at that time, who were doing it because they didn’t know what it would do to the community; they didn’t have a model to see the consequences of it. This wasn’t just a recreational drug, it was something that could destroy their life, family and their kids’ futures––but they didn’t know that.
Not Just A Recreational Drug
Rickey Lamonté Colley: It started off with just powder, and then they started freebasing, but it was when they added the baking soda and made it crack, that it became a terror. That’s when it destroyed the community. My mom, being young, got caught up in that. Around age seven or eight is when I realized things started to change. Then I had a younger brother, Charles, who had sickle cell. At the time, he was very sickly. He was in and out of the hospital. My brother passed away from sickle cell, while I was serving out my sentence. He didn’t pass away until he was 33, but growing up he was sickly. With that, on top of my mom on drugs, it was pure neglect. I was left to care for the both of us.
My mom was gone all the time, leaving us home by ourselves. I was only eight years old and home alone with my sick brother. I knew not to open up the door, or answer the phone. Those were the only rules.
Reversing Actions From The Past
Rickey Lamonté Colley: When I had my own kids I was able to realize how tough we had it; because when you live in that environment you think that it’s normal. I never had a childhood, but at that time I didn’t understand what childhood could even be.
I have two children, a son and my stepdaughter––they’re my joy. I just want them to stay innocent; to have that childhood that I never had. We take them to all the amusement parks––SeaWorld and Sesame Street. I find myself living vicariously through them––because these were things that I did not get to enjoy as a kid. I just want what’s best for them.
Moving to Los Angeles
Rickey Lamonté Colley: My mom had a boyfriend who drove the RTD Bus [Regional Transportation District] and we would ride with him. I remember this little white boy got on the bus in a suit. He was probably no more than nine years old. He got on at Labrea and Venice , sat in the front by us and he said, ‘Can you tell me when to exit the bus on this x street.’ he said. I was amazed; I wanted to do that. I was probably four or five years old at the time, but I begged my mom to let me take the bus. I kept saying I could take the bus by myself. When I turned about seven she finally let me. She showed me one time; from there I got on a bus—I started taking it to Hancock Elementary School in West Hollywood.
At the time we were living with my Auntie, she was a legal secretary and didn’t use drugs. My mom had a new job and was clean. However, she was constantly on and off, but at this point, she was clean for the job. We had just moved back from Louisiana, where we had moved just so she could get clean. But instead of getting better there it got worse and our grandfather kicked her out, so we came back to LA to our Auntie’s house. That’s how I was able to go to Hancock Park Elementary School. It was a totally different environment from previous schools. The food was good, there were extracurricular activities; it was so different. Once my mom got back on her feet we got our own place. This was a district up, but we didn’t want to change schools again so that’s when she decided to teach me how to catch the bus.
I was to take the Fairfax bus and get off at the street before Third Street. My mom told me to leave when the clock said a certain time, but I was so anxious to get to school and so happy to go to this school, that I’d leave way too early. One day I got to school so early that the principal had gotten to the school. Nobody else was at the school yet. The principal asked me, ‘What are you doing here?’. I was in third grade and I didn’t know what to tell him. I stuttered for a while before he asked me to come to his office after school. There he proceeded to ask me, “Where do you live?” I was scared but I told him, and because I didn’t live in the district, they ended up kicking me out of the school and ended up at Marvin Elementary.
The Relapse & Building Structure
Rickey Lamonté Colley: I hated the new school. It was terrible. But now it was 1984. Crack was at an all-time high, and my mom relapsed. It all became bad again. My mom was constantly gone and my brother Charles’ sickle cell was constantly flaring up. I’d spend all day trying to massage his legs to keep them from locking up and causing him more pain, and he’d be crying from the unavoidable pain. We’d be doing this for hours before my mom would pop up out of nowhere with McDonald’s—and we would forgive her because we were young and hungry, and McDonald’s was all it took. But then we’d get hungry again, and she was gone. I watched my mom cook so I thought, ‘I’m gonna try to cook.’ I was eight years old. I brought some potatoes out and some hamburger meat. I was trying to act like I had seen my mom, so I took a knife and cut the potatoes into french fries. They were thick, but I cut them up the best I could. I took the ground beef—I didn’t know how to add seasoning but tried—and made a patty. I turned on the stove and added too much grease to the french fries . I didn’t know how much heat to use, but I put the fries in there. I had to fire too high, the fries got burned on the outside but were still hard on the inside and the burger was undercooked ––but it was a start.
To this day all my friends call me Chef Rikk. They wonder why I keep a home so clean. They think that I’m just a little obsessive. But it’s really because I’ve had to cook and clean since I was eight years old. Once I learned the temperatures, I was off and running. I’m like this now because of all the things that I went through back then.
My mom relapsed on and off, and had two more kids. My brother was still in and out of the hospital. I never thought that my brother would die from it; as a kid, you don’t realize the severity of certain things. And because we were used to him always bouncing back, we wouldn’t even go to visit him in the hospital after a certain point because we became used to him coming back.
We got evicted when we were living in Inglewood. We had nowhere else to go; all my mother’s bridges were burnt and there was nobody to help us out. So we took one box of all our things and sat under a parking structure. There we were, the three of us kids–– me, Charles, and my 9-month-old brother, Johnathan. My mom would leave us under the parking structure or the local park throughout the day we were living in Inglewood at the time . I was around 10 or 11; I was the only person to care for myself and my siblings. I would be lying to friends who’d ask where our house was and tell them we were moving back to Louisiana. I didn’t want them to know we just had gotten evicted. Eventually my uncle, after not hearing from my mom for a couple days, decided to drive around to look for us and that’s when he found us. We didn’t know where our mom was so he picked the three of us up and took us back to his house. They already had kids and didn’t have the space or means to take us in for the long-term, so it became a question of where we could go. My siblings and I had different fathers, who weren’t present throughout our childhoods. So, my grandma told me that I could come back and live with her, as I had as a child. But she only had space for me, and I didn’t want to leave my brothers. Even though I was only 11, I knew my brothers needed me to protect them––we needed each other. So they kept thinking and looking for options. My aunt turned to a friend who had a foster care license. She said she could keep the three of us together, so we went to live with her.
Rickey Lamonté Colley: The first day we got there she asked us, “Do you guys like church?” We loved church, my grandma instilled that love in us. Even through all of the hardships, I knew that I had God, and that God was with us.
That first day she told us we could go outside. I took Johnathan in the stroller and Charles, and we walked. Walking down the street and I prayed. I asked God to please bring my mom back. But she didn’t come back. We were walking down the street, and I was praying for my brothers and feeling lost. We were at some stranger’s house, with nobody. And I remember just praying and crying.
My mom ended up going to prison for two and a half years. We stayed in this foster home for about three years. It didn’t feel like home. You don’t get the same love from the family. We watched this other family—getting presents from their family members. They didn’t know us. They were good to us, as good as they could be, but it wasn’t our family. Our family would stop in occasionally, maybe buy us a gift here and there. But foster care felt like a prison to me.
Rickey Lamonté Colley: When I was in the eighth grade my mom came home from prison. They put her in a program and told her that if she got a place and a job, she could get her kids back. So she ended up getting a job and a home, and met a guy. He let her use his car so she would come and see us at the foster home. This time, she was drug-free and getting back to herself. After she struggled with drugs she wasn’t really in a place to keep something serious with him, but he was good to us. As a kid, I didn’t understand that and wanted the stability he offered. But she couldn’t keep that up. It’s another big reason that I told myself “When I become an adult, I have to take control of my life. And I have to make something out of it.”
Fast forward, now she has another son, she was pregnant when she went to prison and he was born there. so there are 4 of us. She made new promises to us, but then relapsed again. I was about 17 in my senior year of high school at this time. I worked so hard to please my mom and make sure I kept my grades up and graduated on time. But, she didn’t make it to my high school graduation because she was getting high. A lot of the kids that went through what I went through don’t make it that far. It’s because when you don’t have a family, you don’t have the support to get through. You go to school and people pick on you because your clothes are more worn and you’ve been wearing the same shoes all year. It’s just something kids like me all went through because we didn’t have anything.
Finding the Wrong Solutions
Rickey Lamonté Colley: My mom ended up marrying her boyfriend, who helped us get out of the foster home. She relapsed three years later and she left us with her now husband, going on a crack binge. At the time, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t put his foot down and allowed her to continue to live that lifestyle, when he didn’t use drugs. He was about 15 years older than her and I always wondered why my mom didn’t really respect him. I asked her why she treated him that way and she told me that I would understand later on in life. When I got older, I realized that he was nothing but her trick. We were going to get evicted again because instead of paying rent, he gave it to my mom, knowing she was going to smoke it away. So I started selling weed to try to pay the rent and provide for my brothers and myself. And at first, it was for survival but eventually, it became a way of life. I got caught up in that lifestyle. I was making fast money and I was good at it. I ran it like a business; I became a millionaire doing it.
At that time my mom came back after getting out of prison, but now I was a man, and I wasn’t taking anything from her. Our relationship deteriorated fast because I wouldn’t do any of the things she felt I should be doing for her. And I was thinking, ‘You weren’t even here. Who are you, to come out of nowhere and demand anything?’ I had become an adult and was no longer relying on her, and I refused to let her rely on me any longer, even though my good heart wouldn’t allow me not to take care of her. I felt like I was doing really well, my brothers were starting to do well also. I ended up moving them to Atlanta because I knew they wouldn’t be able to survive the streets of LA and Atlanta would provide them a better opportunity to become something.
But that time ran out, and it ran up to the point where I went to prison.
When I went to prison that’s when my life finally slowed down from my childhood. I was able to get a good night’s rest, after feeling like I had been running all my life. The DEA agent said to me as they was booking me in at MDC look at you, you look tired of running. Prison It helped me get my mind right.
I ended up doing six years in federal prison. They got me for intent to distribute over 2,000 kilos of marijuana and money laundering. When I went to prison, I was able to reflect on everything I had been doing and the things that led me there. I told myself, ‘When I go home, I cannot go back to that lifestyle.’ I wanted to do the things I love.
I’m a businessman. During my pre-trial, one of the authorities said, “You could have run a Fortune 500 company—why did you choose this?” They didn’t understand. I wrote the judge a letter explaining my life and, when he sentenced me, he gave me a break. He could have given me a life sentence. They were trying to give me a lot of time because there was so much money involved, but the judge understood my story even if the prosecution didn’t. He gave me a reduction because I never had a chance. In doing so, that judge gave me a second chance.
Rickey Lamonté Colley: When I came home, I didn’t know what I was going to do but I knew it had to be something of my own. During those six years, while I was in prison, everybody learned how to get on without me, so I was finally able to concentrate on myself. I kept trying new things, and eventually, I came up with the fragrance and my luxury lifestyle brand R$X&Co Inc.I had already been exposed to all the finest things. I mean, I was hanging around with multi-millionaires, billionaires, and celebrities, while living in a $4 million home in Bel Air.
I created a brand that embodies the essence of the luxury lifestyle, one I had experienced firsthand, it is my way of sharing it with the world.
I have a son now, I have my business moving forward. And with my son, I can’t let him down. My whole thing is just being able to provide for my family. To make sure my son doesn’t ever have to go through what I did.
I’ve adapted to living a normal life. I use my credit card, not just cash for everything. It’s a transition, reacclimating as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, and I love it.
Rickey Lamonté Colley: R$X&Co. is a company dedicated to not only creating items that promote the senses, but that also set the right tone and mood for the perfect romantic night. It came to be after a lifetime fascination and appreciation of fragrance. My very first experience occurred after begging my mom to buy me cologne when I was just in kindergarten, which I would use daily, showing the bottle off to my friends with pride. I found inspiration from brands such as Joe Malone, Clive Christian, Creed, Baccarat, Tom Ford, and New York Bond; and created my very own unisex parfum line, R$X&Co. In doing so, it is my mission to serve as a source for luxury scents that are sought by those looking to add a sensual touch to their high life. Built around the fact that the human sense of smell is capable of identifying seven ostentatious sensations, I designed a line that sets the stage for immeasurable pleasure. Including a variety of ingredients such as White Woods, Palo Santo, Oud, Sweet Tobacco, Deep Vanilla and Italian Bergamot, all of which stimulate and awaken, the mood is effortlessly set, giving users a heightened erotic trice, allowing them to create impressive, long lasting memories.
We also have an intimate oil line called “Drip” and candle collection that has notes of apricot to fill your home with a feeling of relaxation and luxury.
New Luxury Lifestyle Ventures
Rickey Lamonté Colley: I’ve always gotten a feeling of fulfillment after hosting friends and family and giving them a full luxury dining experience, this was the inspiration behind the company Home Skillet Eatery.
Home Skillet Eatery is a catering company that serves organic soul food curated and designed with passion merging luxury and art on a platter while keeping it simple yet rich in taste.
This is another extension of how I love to provide style and excellence in all I do throughout my luxury brands. This is only the beginning—there’s much more to come!
Interview by Tricia Love Vargas
Photography by AB Saloj
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