1967-1975: The Elephant

In 1971, McCray saw his own obituary. “Cornbread Is Dead,” the headline read. A young man named Cornelius had been shot to death and the newspaper incorrectly identified him as Cornbread. McCray fought hard to show that the story was wrong and that Cornbread the tagger was still alive and well. He tagged all over the city, but people assumed that these were just copycat Cornbreads. Finally, he devised an unorthodox way to get the media’s attention. For three days, McCray observed a zookeeper working with one of the elephants at the Philadelphia Zoo. He saw the way the elephant trusted the zookeeper and did not seem bothered by having a human around him. When the employees were gone, McCray hopped the fence into the elephant’s enclosure. He walked up to the elephant, using the same moves and gestures that he had observed the trainer making. When he felt confident that the elephant trusted him, McCray tagged “Cornbread Lives” on the elephant’s sides. The stunt earned him a jail sentence and a reputation as the most elite tagger in the world.

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