Friday, October 28, 2016

A homeless actor struggles to recover on the streets of Highland Park

Scott Anthony Robinson near the Highland Park Starbucks | Nathan Solis

Scot Anthony Robinson near the Highland Park Starbucks | Nathan Solis


HIGHLAND PARK — Scot Anthony Robinson once found himself leaping and bounding on stage, his voice booming through auditoriums full of school children captivated by his story about life as a homeless heroin addict. But recently, the 53-year-old had been panhandling outside the drive-thru Starbucks on York Boulevard after finding himself homeless a second time.

At the Highland Park Starbucks, Robinson made about $30 a day sitting near the entrance of the drive-thru parking lot. One day someone shouted, “Get out of here or I’m calling the cops,” according to Robinson.

Robinson is a trained film and stage actor. Some of his film credits include New York Undercover, Spike Lee’s Malcom X and an En Vogue music video.

For years he performed his one-man show, Vision Warrior, to auditoriums full of school children across the country,  recounting  his battle with addiction to heroin, cocaine and his rehabilitation. In his one-man show, he threw his entire body into the performance, reenacting an attempted suicide in a jail cell as well as his recovery.

After performances Robinson would hold group sessions with students to talk about peer pressure and self-esteem. He would stand there as a testament to how far one can fall and recover.

Drugs were responsible for his first homeless stint. The second time started with a phone call from his mother.

“She said, ‘Scot, I don’t want you to freak out, I’m not freaking out. I have cancer.’ And of course inside I freaked out, because my father had died a few years prior,” Robinson said in a recent interview.

Two days later he relocated his life to care for his mother in her Silver Lake apartment. In a short amount of time he would eat through his savings, giving himself entirely to her care and  leaving his career, girlfriend and apartment in New York.

“Watching my mother lose her independence so gracefully makes me want to be a better person,” he said. “But watching her pass for so long, it wounded me.”

Painting of Scot Anthony Robinson by Phil Santos

Painting of Scot Anthony Robinson by Phil Santos

After his mother’s passing in 2012, Robinson grieved and attempted to return to work. But one night before a performance Robinson woke to find that half of his body was paralyzed. At first he chalked it up to a pinched nerve. He tried to perform, but found himself unable to get into the act as his arm was curled into his chest and his speech was slurred. Robinson did not receive any professional therapy, and a second stroke struck him one day while he was pumping gas.

“I just remember waking up and being surrounded by EMTs.”

Unable to work and with his savings cleaned out, it was only a matter of time until he lost his parent’s Silver Lake apartment. He lived for a while out of a leased car that was eventually repossessed.

“My whole life was in that car,” says Robinson, who took what he could carry out of the vehicle.

In Highland Park, Robinson apparently wore out his welcome at the York Boulevard Starbucks. He said he was banned from the store, and a district manager threatened trespassing charges. Employees confirmed that Robinson is not allowed on the premises.

As a stroke victim, Robinson cannot stand for a long stretch of time, so he is usually sitting, hunched over, his face low to the ground with a smile. Once he looked up and a woman was staring at him, upset at what she saw.

“She didn’t even know my story. She probably thought I was a junkie or drunk. But I was just smiling.”

Nathan Solis is a writer and photographer who grew up in El Sereno

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  1. That is heartbreaking. I spoke to him once outside the CVS and I remember, because he was hunched over and appeared to be almost falling asleep, being totally caught off guard by his deep and eloquent speaking voice.

  2. So happy we don’t have single payer universal health care. It is working wonders. I hope Starbucks reserves a space for me on the floor outside their premises when I am broke and permanently disabled.

  3. Read the story about Scot Robinson while in bed, in my home. I am reminded we are all just living our lives day to day, and that our life journey can change in an instance. Wherever we are in our lives, we need to stop, give thanks, and lend a hand to our neighbors in need. We all need a lil help now and then, whether it is giving someone our change from our $6.00 cup of coffee, or, just a smile and saying good morning.

    • Alicia I totally agree with you. But, my personal fear is when do we know as we go through our own journey, that it’s safe to do so. Many homeless individuals have personal demons that have sadly resulted in minor incidents, such as, disagreements, confrontations, fights to criminal activity, and death. I have extreme compassion for someone like Mr. Scot Robinson and I hope that the non-profit organizations, churches, and public officials in our community reach out to him and help improve his circumstance.

  4. He seems like he has a perfect case for going on disability and getting food stamps and cheap housing (though probably in a different part of the city). This would get him off the streets.. Sounds like he could use a social worker to help him access the system.

    • I know Anthony (Scot) as I live in the neighborhood. He has been trying for over a year to get disability without any luck so far. They always try to find a way not to pay, so it Ilan be a lo ng hard road until one gets any help. Too long for many.
      Anthony always has a smile on his face. Once he was gone for 3-4 months and I was always looking for him. Then he appeared again at the Starbucks, more hunched over than before and certainly in a worse state overall. It is really hard to see. He is very intelligent and welll spoken.
      If you ever see him, take the time to talk to him…or other homeless for that matter. Many have degrees, are lawyers, doctors, artists and just ended on the street because of bad luck and unfortunate circumstances. It happens so easily here. Scary and sad.

  5. Shame on starbucks, he never hurt or bothered anyone. I saw starbucks employee chattng with him. Just another reason to stop governing them support. Their business model had changed, crappy location design, no longer training employees properly – corporate climate had changed from one of employee respect and empowerment to the same bs all the other big corps do, undervaluing and over working their people

  6. I’m a friend of Anthony’s, and a social worker (just to be clear, he is not my client, and he has encouraged me to share his story in hopes it will help him and anyone experiencing homelessness). In response to questions that Northerner and others have asked… Yes, Anthony *should* be a prime candidate for assistance from SSDI, EBT, Subsidized housing, etc. In Anthony’s case, he has applied for and is waiting to receive SSI/DI. I believe he does receive some General Relief, however GR is a temporary stopgap, not a livable income (maximum GR is $221/month plus around $100 in EBT “foodstamps”). Because Anthony is not a veteran, not yet a senior citizen, and hasn’t (to my knowledge) been approved for disability, he doesn’t qualify for the affordable / HUD housing programs available to the most vulnerable individuals. And even those programs often have long waiting lists. Anthony told me that he avoids going to shelters because they are often more dangerous than being on the street. Due to his physical limitations caused by strokes, he feels like an “easy target”; sadly, he has been robbed by other homeless individuals, as well as assaulted by predatory people. If you are a disability attorney, please consider contacting Anthony to see if he needs pro bono legal aid. If you are a homeless services/housing provider, please consider hooking him up with some quality case management. If you are a human in the HLP area, and you see Anthony, please at least just smile back at him! 🙂

    • scot anthony robinson

      hi everyone, this Anthony, am sop sorry I have been so out of touch but I recently was hit by a hit and run driver, an SUV that ran over my right leg and kept going, I passed out from the pain as well as peed in my pants, embarrassing but I always feel that everything I am goping thru is for a greater good, that somehow all the pain and mis-treatment will fuel my story and article and poetry that I am writing so that it will bring change to this social ill we call homelessness! If you can or would like to help me as I have not been able to work since this happened on Labor day, please reach out to me, a lovely couple, one of several earth angles has put me up at a motel for a few nights, so you casn reach me at 818 246 8367 rm 106, cannot walk as my leg was severly damaged, I have to keep it above my heart and elkevated, so you can imagine how much pain I am in as well, I rerally need everyone’s prayers and help so please feel free to call, warmly, gratefully Anthony aka vision warrior aka scotty rock xoxo

  7. I learned Anthony’s name from the Starbuck’s employees that work near where he stations himself. I immediately noticed and sensed that he was less aggressive than the other homeless people that I also know by their names and am familiar with in the area. I have given Anthony money in the past. And several times I went to by water for Anthony from Starbucks bit they gave it to me for free because it was for him. I hope he does get the help he needs from the agencies as he is struggling to survive on the street.

  8. Has anyone seen Anthony around lately?

  9. scot anthony robinson

    “I smile, illuminate rays of hope, the light left inside my soul,
    despite the glares, nasty stares ,rolling eyes and disdain, laughter and snickers, invisible am not even there stares,
    who cares just another homeless bum wanting something from us, disgust is my daily bread”
    that is a few lines from a poem I wrote around the time Nathan wrote the story for the eastsider, btw thank you Nathan and his editor and the eastsider for doing this on me! the good news is someone from the city counsel came to look for me and it looks like I may finally get the help I need in terms of medical and hosuing and disabuility and well hopefully everything, thank you all for your c\omments, I don’t have much time so I am writing very quickly using a friends laptop at starbucks , the other one (: lol please if you would like to help me stop by the York off of nEaglerock
    i really need funds as i have so many needs from sneakers tro underwear to you name it, I am writeing my own stroy in the hope that it will help the homeless , you cannot imagine the things I have been thru from being assualted to being hit by a truck as I slept to fighting for my life almost daily , dealing with so many heartless merchent to the corp world ignoring the problem, I will wriotre much more when I have my own laptop and time, but now as it is so hard to find places to panhandle that I have averaged $4 to 5 bucks a day of late, which is absolutely dismal and scary, so come on down to help your warrior, I have decided to go back to work becuase the docs suggested I could have another stroke or heart attack if I did but I figure that I could die any day or night living out here now so I much rather be helping inspire and loving our youth with my vision warrior programs, go to you tube and type in vision warrior and watch my 10 intro to the past 22 yrs of helping young people as well as the 90 second psa, please forgive the spelling , can’t find the spell check on this thing, lol thank you all for your help and interest and say a lil prayer for me and my article being picked up by the Times and that book deal which I have been dreaming of for the past 2 decades as well as a return to health and completing my documentary of which we have 64 hrs of raw footage already in the can, warrior love to everyone who has prayed or helped or thought or sent me well wishes , God bless, scotty rock aka anthony, xoxo

  10. Thank you for posting this. Anthony is an amazing guy. Saw him today at the McDonald’s on Avenue 26. Pray for him often and help when I can. Our social service system is shameful and Starbucks?! There are no words…

  11. Thank you for your heartfelt story to humanize Mr. Robinson.

  12. Good Morning,

    This message is for my warrior Scotty Rock,

    I have been thinking of you and praying you are alright. You have helped me through so many downs in my life and I am proud to call you a friend. I am heartbroken and sad reading this. You always encouraged me to look forward and fight through anything and everything that threatened to stop me. You have been the hope and savior for so many of our youth in trouble. You have been a light in the tunnel. I pray that when people come in contact with you they feel honored and blessed to be in the presence of an angel with a heart of gold and a soul filled with wisdom and beauty. I was on the phone with you when your mother passed and I felt your sadness and pain but knew you would survive. You are surviving….like you always have. I am surviving…as I always have. This life is going to test us over and over. The people we come into contact with will be a part of this endeavor. Always be the kind and loving spirit that you are and have taught so many to be. There is love and hope awaiting you and I am always here. I miss you dearly as I go through my own life trials and wish I could just hear your calm, inspiring voice telling me to keep my power and never give up. I pray that you never give up. So many souls are rooting for you.

    Your friend,

  13. I know Scot and it breaks my heart that he is homeless. If anybody knows how to reach him please call me, Pastor Elwood McDowell in Tucson, AZ at 520 8696973.

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