From the Nominator
While being held in solitary confinement after being sentenced to prison at age 16, Reginald Dwayne Betts discovered poetry. In a smoothly flowing narrative spiced with excerpts from his own writing, Sala Levin lays out the unlikely life story of a gifted high school student who flirted with criminality, and paid the price when he was charged as an adult in a carjacking. But he turned his life around after his release by graduating from the University of Maryland (where he was the student commencement speaker), becoming a highly respected writer, earning a master's degree, enrolling in Yale Law School, and winning admittance to the Connecticut bar.
From the Judges
This profile is a model of how to keep the energy going all the way through the piece. It never loses steam in the way that often happens. The subject feels real; the device of the Rubik’s cube is used in an elegant way, and never feels like it’s too much. It is not easy to profile a subject who has been getting a lot of attention—as one of our judges put it, “to follow in such a frothy wake”—but the writer did a wonderful job adding to the body of writing that is out there already. And the title of the feature is perfect.