On September 20, 2011, former 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell (a/k/a Uncle Luke) sued Nevin Shapiro (a/k/a Little Luke) for statements made by Shapiro in the provocative Yahoo! Sports article released in August. In the Yahoo! Sports article, Shapiro detailed numerous payments and gifts provided to University of Miami (“Miami”) student-athletes over the course of nearly a decade that will likely lead to an extended meeting with the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Some of the transgressions mentioned by Shapiro that were detailed by Campbell are as follows:
1) Running and profiting from a multimillion dollar Ponzi scheme that cost investors tens of millions of dollars;
2) Illegally gambling in excess of $5 million on sports, including huge sums on Miami athletics;
3) Allegedly paying for dozens of college-age athletes to receive sex from prostitutes;
4) Paying for prostitutes made available to college-age athletes in hotel rooms;
5) Paying for prostitutes made available to college-age athletes on a private yacht; and
6) Facilitating and arranging for college-age athletes to enter strip clubs and other establishments, assisting these athletes to obtain alcohol and other services.
Campbell is well known for his explicit portrayal of the party scene in Miami in the 1990s in various songs (lyrics will not be found on this page) that drew national attention and also his support of Miami during this time. Although Campbell acknowledges being a devote supporter of Miami, he takes umbrage with statements made by Shapiro such as: “Luther Campbell was the first uncle who took care of players before I got going. His role diminished by the NCAA and the school and someone needed to pick up that mantle. That someone was me. He was ‘Uncle Luke’ and I became ‘Little Luke.’” As a result of comments like this and innuendo pointing to alleged nefarious acts of Campbell, Campbell filed suit for slander and libel by stating “this statement intended to, and did, falsely accuse [Campbell] of engaging in the same type and category of illegal and immoral behaviors relative to college-age athletes.” Campbell believes that statements of this kind have or will hurt his reputation in the community including his involvement in local politics and his quest to obtain a coaching certificate from the State of Florida.
As with all slander and libel proceedings, truth is a defense and Campbell’s arguments are also difficult because he is a public figure. As a result of his status as a public figure, Campbell will have to show the defamatory statements were made with actual malice (i.e., the statement was published with knowledge of or reckless disregard for its falsity).