Alpo Martinez—the former drug kingpin who inspired the film 2002 Paid in Full—was killed in a drive-by shooting at age 55 on Sunday, and actor Mekhi Phifer took a moment to reflect on the man whose life he helped illuminate.
Phifer, who portrayed dealer Rich Porter in the film opposite Cam’ron, took to Instagram to share some behind-the-scenes action from the now-classic picture, which he described as “bringing to life the story of true #Harlem Influencers #richporter and #alpo.”
“True story, myself and Cam went to the same high-school in Harlem at the same time. 116th and Pleasant ave. Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics,” the actor wrote. “We had an obligation to do these brothers justice! I’m just happy we were able to have the honor of doing so.”
He continued, revealing that he never met Rich, but spoke to his friends and family when he landed the role back in the day.
“I grew up knowing the legend of these Kats and had to represent the humanity in the choices they made,” Phifer shared with his followers. “Hopefully lessons were learned and not glorified in any way. Hopefully we were able to capture their motivation and mannerisms. RIP to both these brothers. Much love!”
Cam shared some love with his former co-star underneath the post, writing that he and Wood Harris taught him “a lot of acting skills.”
“This was my first movie and was raw talent. Couldn’t have done it without you both. 🙏🏾🙏🏾 love bro 💪🏽,” Cam wrote.
Martinez, who chose to become an informant in exchange for a lighter prison sentence of 35 years, was placed in witness protection when he was released in 2015. He was shot five times in Harlem around 3:30 a.m. Sunday while sitting in an SUV, later to be pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
“You were in the witness protection program because you testified against other drug dealers,” a source told the New York Post. “You’d make a lot of enemies who have a score to settle. When you return to the same area, word will get out very fast. He’s back in the zone.”