As R&B singer Chris Brown played a pick-up game in Goolrick Gymnasium on Tuesday night, Traci Ditirro and Anne LaPerla playfully nabbed two of the basketballs Brown’s entourage was playing with.
“I told them that we would only give them the balls back if they let us get a picture with Chris Brown,” Ditirro said.
Then one of the men on the court said something that offended the two girls and the crowd surrounding them.
“We both heard the guy say, ‘If I got you a picture, you’ll get beat up too,’ ” Ditrro said.
Ditirro, a freshman, and LaPerla, a sophomore, took the comment as a reference to Brown’s recent charges of felony assault and making criminal threats in connection with an alleged altercation with popular R&B singer Rihanna.
“That’s pretty much the worst thing you could say about Chris Brown right now,” LaPerla said. “The crowd was shocked; everyone’s jaws dropped.”
Afterward, Ditirro and LaPerla waited in the line of autograph and photo-seekers to tell Brown what the man said.
“We told [Brown] the story, and I think he took it the wrong way at first,” Ditirro said. Brown assured them that he had nothing to do with the comment, she added.
According to Ditirro, Brown thanked her and LaPerla for informing him about the comment and asked them to point out to his bodyguard which man made the comment.
The man, who claimed to be Brown’s cousin, first gave his name to a Bullet reporter as Todd Lucas and later told the reporter that his name was actually Dodd Smith, saying the first name he gave was fake. There was no way to independently verify his identity. He characterized the incident as a misunderstanding.
“They misheard me,” he said. “I said that if I got them a picture with Chris Brown then I would get beaten up—not them. And I meant that security guards would do the beating up, not Chris.”
He added: “I never said a woman-beater comment. It’s not like that.”
While Ditirro acknowledged that a misunderstanding is possible, she is still skeptical.
“If he had said that he was the one getting beat-up, I don’t think the people around us would have had the same reaction,” she said.
Ditirro said that she is a fan of Chris Brown’s music and does not hold the comments against him.
“I have no problem with Chris Brown,” she said. “I have a problem with being insulted and offended.”
After being made aware of the situation, Brown and his security guards were eager to clear the situation with the students and avoid negative publicity.
“I don’t do negative,” Brown said.