Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Two Antonios: AP tells the story of two kids trying to escape poverty in Baltimore

Antonio Moore, 24, holds a designer t-shirt reading "Stop Gun Violence" in his childhood neighborhood in east Baltimore, Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Moore is a successful real estate investor and entrepreneur who founded a consulting company that helps brands and nonprofits connect with urban youth. AP PHOTO / STEVE RURARK

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Baltimore reporter Lea Skene was all too familiar with the prevalence of gun violence in Baltimore and the devastated families it leaves behind. So when she received a press release from police last August saying two squeegee kids had been shot, one fatally, she followed up, got the name of the deceased victim, then found his mother by knocking on doors. Antonio Lee’s mother invited Skene to her son’s vigil. There, Skene met another Antonio, a man who had been a close childhood friend of Antonio Lee who had somehow escaped the cycle of violence that seemed to infect their neighborhood.

Skene had been wanting to do a story about how people can “make it out” of violent neighborhoods since we write so much more about the people who are killed by gun violence and don’t get the chance to make it out. She saw an opportunity to tell both sides by writing a story about the lives of the two Antonios.

Antonio Lee was shot to death before he could break the negative cycles of his youth, while Antonio Moore, his good friend, managed to make it out of the neighborhood and became a successful real estate investor and entrepreneur.

Skene spent months reaching out to family, friends, neighborhood activists and anyone else she could find who knew one or both men. Her story was at once touching, heartbreaking and uplifting — a narrative about two young men who grew up surrounded by poverty and violence on the streets of east Baltimore.

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