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It remains unclear how much Mayor Ford was exposed to his siblings' escapades and their issues with illegal drugs. He is considerably younger – Doug, the closest, is five years older. But at least one of Doug's closest and oldest friends has become an official adviser to the mayor's office. Several sources have identified David Price as a former participant in Doug Ford's hashish enterprise.
The morning after the Toronto Star and the U.S. gossip website Gawker alleged that journalists with both organizations had viewed a homemade video of the mayor smoking crack, a throng of reporters waited outside his home. Mr. Ford walked past them, uttered only four words – "these allegations are ridiculous" – and hopped into his SUV.
After driving only a few feet, he pulled to the side of the road and rolled down his window to chat with a man in a sunglasses and a blue shirt, Mr. Price. Moments later, Mr. Price appeared again, this time standing between videographers and Mr. Ford as they tried to film the mayor at the gas station at the end of his street.
Since he arrived at City Hall, the mayor's office has said almost nothing about what Mr. Price, called director of logistics and operations, is there to do. Concerning the hiring of Mr. Price, Doug Ford told Globe and Mail city hall reporter Elizabeth Church that "you can't teach loyalty."
Mr. Price first appeared in the office mere days after The Toronto Star revealed that the mayor had been asked to leave a military benefit gala by Councillor Paul Ainslie allegedly because he appeared intoxicated.
A few months before Mr. Price became a public official, he was approached by a Star reporter covering a football game being played by the high-school team coached by Mr. Ford. The reporter quoted Mr. Price as saying that he had coached the mayor in high school, and ever since he has been described in media reports as Rob Ford's former football coach turned aide.
However, four former dealers who spoke with The Globe described Mr. Price as a participant in Doug Ford's hash business in the 1980s.
Both men attended Scarlett Heights Collegiate Institute, where they played football and hockey. "Michael," a former street-level dealer, said he recalls being approached by a young David Price, who told him that Doug Ford had come into a large supply of hash. "I remember buying a quarter-pound," he said.
"Robert," once a large-scale supplier, called Mr. Price "Dougie's close ally" and described their hash business as "a partnership."
"Justin," a former street dealer, said: "They were two peas in a pod. They were both big, tough boys. It just became a natural thing."
He added: "Doug brought the supply, and Dave brought the demand."
According to Mr. Price's LinkedIn page, which has been taken down since he joined the mayor's office, he was Doug Ford's campaign manager in 2010, and graduated from York University in 1987 with a degree in economics and international relations.
Following that, he worked for decades at State Street Canada, a financial services company that provides investment management for institutional investors, such as pension and mutual funds. One former colleague described him as hard-working, very oriented toward customer service, and extremely opinionated when it came to politics. He left the company in 2011.
Mr. Price did not respond to several requests for comment.
Rob Ford was not a player in the Etobicoke drug trade. Several sources said they saw him around his brothers as they were doing business, but they said he didn't seem to be involved in a significant way.
It is difficult to determine what it was like for him growing up in this environment. His spokesman did not respond to requests for interviews. His closest friends from high school declined interview requests. Generally, it was only people who were on his periphery who agreed to speak.
As a teenager, the future mayor committed to football like it was a religion. He co-captained his junior team at Scarlett Heights Collegiate, which went a dismal 1-5 in the regular season one year, but shocked the league in the playoffs by making it to the championship and upsetting undefeated Etobicoke Collegiate. A yearbook photograph shows that "Robbie" – as he was known then – wore his leather championship jacket for at least three years after that victory.
He once played on Etobicoke's all-star team, a mixed bag of players from different high schools that was assembled in the summer to face off against all-star teams from Toronto's other boroughs.
It was a short and intense two weeks of back-to-back practices, which was necessary to inject cohesion into a mixed bag of young men who didn't know each other. Before each practice, they were told to run a mile. If they completed the run in under six minutes, they didn't have to complete it again for the rest of training camp. But if they failed, they had to keep running it at the start of every practice until they came in under the mark.
After a few days, there was only one person left chugging around the track.
"I remember Rob, who was about the same size as he is now, running this thing every day for like two weeks until he was the only guy running – but still giving it 100 per cent at the beginning of every practice until he finally made it," said Mike Lawler, a former Scarlett Heights coach.
"I just thought it took a lot for a kid to do that and not say 'to hell with it.' "
Another former Scarlett Heights football coach, Art Robinson, described young Rob as a leader, who was regularly the foreman in his shop class. There were even a few occasions, Mr. Robinson said, that Rob alerted him to students smoking pot on school grounds.
He went on to attend Carleton University. where he played football but never left the bench, one former teammate said. He dropped out in 1990, the end of his first year, he has told the online news service Openfile.
After that, he joined the family business, but unlike Doug, who ambitiously worked to grow the company, helping it expand to Chicago, his heart was not in it, several former employees said.
"Robbie just did not have the passion for labels," one long-time employee said. "He did what he had to do because it was the family business, but he did not show true passion until he got into politics."
His first run for public office came when he was 27, a council election that he lost. Undeterred, he became involved in several civic-minded campaigns – including one that targeted drug dealers and buyers.
In 1998, he teamed with his father and Toronto police for an unorthodox project, he later told The Etobicoke Guardian. In what would be the start of his unwavering tough-on-crime platform, he – at the time, 29 and unelected – and Doug Sr. – a backbencher at Queen's Park – travelled to Scarlettwood Courts, an Etobicoke public-housing complex, to rid it of illegal drugs.
"When people would drive through to buy drugs, we'd send the owner of the car a letter. It would tell them not come back to the area," Mr. Ford told the Guardian after he was elected to City Council in 2000. He said his crime-fighting campaign had helped him win the election and promised to take the battle to other low-income neighbourhoods.
But his personal war on drugs was short-lived. The year after their letter-writing campaign, he was arrested in Florida after being pulled over for impaired driving. Police also found a joint in his pocket – an offence not revealed until his 2010 mayoral campaign.
Throughout the reporting of this story, Doug Ford made several phone calls to Globe managers and reporters to complain about the questions being asked.
In November, 2011, he called a reporter in the evening to complain about the newspaper's "yellow" and "gutter" journalism.
"I'm getting calls from people I haven't talked to in 20 years," he said. When asked why he was so upset, he responded that he objected to "the type of questions" being asked.
"This is going to get ugly," he said, explaining that he was too "hot" at that moment to consider setting up a formal sit-down interview.
His call appeared to have been prompted by a brief interview The Globe had conducted that day, when a reporter asked a former associate about the RY Drifters – a group that he said never existed.
"It's like a folk tale," he said.
Greg McArthur is an investigative reporter with The Globe and Mail. Shannon Kari is a freelance journalist in Toronto. They were assisted by staff researcher Stephanie Chambers
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