Best Local Girl Made Good 2014 | Lauryn Williams | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

"I didn't come here to make history," Lauryn Williams told the NBC crew in Sochi, Russia. But the silver medal gleaming around her neck told a different story. It's a tale of speed, transition, perseverance, and — yes — ultimately, of history. The Pittsburgh native came to South Florida in 2001 to run track at the University of Miami. She is just five-foot-three, but — as competitors on the field soon learned — there's a nuclear power plant's worth of energy stored within her. Williams turned her collegiate career into a shot at the Olympics and, just after graduating in 2004, snagged a silver medal in Athens in the 100-meter dash. Eight years later in London, she added a gold medal to her collection as a member of the four-by-100-meter relay team. And then a curious thing happened. In the airport on the way to a track meet, a fellow star mentioned a curious idea to Williams: The Winter Games were coming up. Why not give bobsledding a try? Sure enough, after just six months of training, Williams' sheer power earned her the job of brakeman on a qualifying team. And on the course at Sochi, her sled nabbed second place, earning her another silver medal. In the process, the pride of Coral Gables became the first American woman ever to medal at both the Summer and Winter games. But as the soft-spoken speedster told NBC, all that was subtext to the thrill of competing — and winning — at a new sport. "Making the history part is just an extra bonus," she said with a grin.

For a decade, Chad Johnson was one of the best professional football players on the planet. But when a big-money move to the New England Patriots didn't work out, the man once known as "Ochocinco" was 86ed from the limelight. He moved back to his native Miami, signed with the Dolphins, and married reality-TV star Evelyn Lozada. Life was good. Shortly before the season started, however, Johnson was arrested for allegedly head-butting Lozada. In a matter of hours, he was dumped by his team, wife, and most of his fans. But as New Times revealed in a profile of the beleaguered baller, Johnson may not actually have attacked Lozada. Either way, he tried to put his broken life back together by spending time by himself and with his one, unwavering friend: Lolita the killer whale. Johnson, who grew up in Liberty City, had been fascinated by the animal since first seeing her decades before. Now he would come to the Miami Seaquarium by himself and watch her leap like a wide receiver out of her cage. One day, after everyone else had gone, Lolita's trainers invited Johnson onto the slippery platform in the middle of Lolita's pen. He crouched down on his knees as if praying. Suddenly, the orca emerged from the water in front of him, its open mouth revealing a line of sharp, six-inch teeth. Johnson leaned forward and kissed Lolita on her pale, pink tongue. Then he leaped into the air as if once again celebrating a touchdown. For a moment, the pain and penury of the past year was gone, and Johnson's smile was as wide as the orca's. "I don't need a woman when I'm tonguing a killer whale," he said.

How good a guy is Paul DiMare? Well, in 2012, he and wife, Swanee, saw a car swerving all over the road up north in Massachusetts with two kids in back. They noticed the driver seemed drunk and called cops, "which quite possibly could have prevented a fatal car crash," according to a local TV station. Then this spring, Paul and Swanee pledged $12.5 million through the Paul J. DiMare Foundation to the University of Miami. About half of it, $6 million, will support scholarships at the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. UM's Frost School of Music will get $2 million for a new recital hall. And money will go for athletic scholarships and other athletic needs. The DiMares are among the Southeast's largest fruit and vegetable packers. They are also damned fine people.

In this city, the moniker "power couple" usually denotes old and wealthy. But how about a pair who are young and influential? Look no further than Sean Drake and Michelle Leshem, who under the name Supermarket Creative guide Miami businesses to new heights of coolness and brand awareness. When they aren't busy promoting others, they are actually DJing around town. Drake has already opened for legends like John Digweed, while Leshem spins as part of the Ess & Emm duo with her friend Sasha Lauzon. Together these women have spun at countless high-profile events and for a while even enjoyed a residency Thursday nights at Set. If you manage to break into the couple's close network of friends, you'll enjoy invites to plenty of hush-hush events and private house parties. Their names may not a grace a local museum just yet, but Drake and Leshem's stamp of approval already carries plenty of weight around Miami.

Back in 2008, Alberto Carvalho inherited the top job at Miami-Dade Public Schools under doubly unenviable circumstances. On one hand, the system was in turmoil — his predecessor, Rudy Crew, had just been forced out, teacher morale was plummeting, and sharks were circling around his position from the start. On the other hand, just before getting pushed out, Crew had earned the highest recognition ever for a Florida schools chief, becoming the first from the Sunshine State to win National Superintendent of the Year. Five years later, Carvalho had already surpassed his predecessor's achievements. Graduation levels had spiked across the board. Test scores were also on the rise. His system won the 2012 Broad Prize, a prestigious award for urban districts. And then this February, Carvalho became the second Floridian to nab honors as National Superintendent of the Year. It's all a testament to a fine turnaround job in one of America's most historically troubled districts but also to Carvalho's unmatched political skills. Not many leaders could have moved into such a toxic job and not only survived but thrived. Carvalho even managed to finagle voter support last year for $1.2 billion in bonds for new construction and technology projects at the height of Marlins Stadium antispending fervor. A politico who can escape the Jeffrey Loria effect? Now that's a miracle.

He is dreamy. He is a (former) professional soccer player, an underwear model, an entrepreneur, a father of four nonsensically named children, and husband to an insanely thin international pop star. And — most recently — he is the owner of a shiny new Major League Soccer franchise. One thing he is not, however, is from Miami. So it seemed a bit odd when Becks began appearing at Heat games alongside Bolivian billionaire Marcelo Clauré, flashing his handsome face and broadcasting not-so-subtle hints that he wanted to make sweet, sweet love to the city until it gave him a baby soccer stadium of his own. Well, we were flattered by this charming foreigner, weren't we? If we're honest, we'll admit to feeling a tingling somewhere below our tummies. But the question of where Beckham was going to put it — his stadium, that is — is trickier. After the Marlins' bait and switch, we are wary of rich men and their promises. Beckham is no Jeffrey Loria, but even the handsome Brit came on a little strong when he said he wouldn't settle for anything less than a spot on the waterfront.

For a decade, Manny Maroño ruled over the quiet suburb of Sweetwater, an enclave of 14,000 people in western Miami-Dade County previously most notable for being founded by a troupe of circus midgets looking for a tropical retirement locale. Maroño tried to force his way into local headlines with a loud crusade against bath salts and synthetic marijuana, despite the fact that there was scant evidence the stuff was anywhere to be found in his municipality. If it was headlines Maroño craved, though, he finally got them last August. That's when an FBI sting nabbed him taking up to $40,000 in kickbacks for getting bogus grant applications through the city bureaucracy. The Sweetwater mayor wasn't alone — in fact, Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi was caught up and arrested in the same sting. Two other Dade mayors, in Homestead and North Miami, have also been arrested this year. What makes Maroño's case sweeter, though, is that his arrest was followed by a swift conviction and a hefty sentence, penalties all too rare in dirty Dade politics. In January, a federal judge nailed the ex-politico with 40 months in the slammer — longer than even prosecutors had recommended — while calling cases like his a "cancer" on South Florida. Honest residents can only hope that Maroño's sentence is one step toward curing the disease.

In a world where giant man-children are paid millions to play a game, where teams kick the crap out of each other on live television every Sunday, this year's greatest battle won't be on the football field but in the locker room. Starring Richie Incognito as a racist bully and Jonathan Martin as his awkward, antisocial victim, this is the story of how the 2013 Miami Dolphins self-destructed before the season even began.

Martin: Ima egg your house & light a bag of shit on fire then ring your doorbell.

Incognito: I'm going to shoot you and claim self defense.

Also starring: Joe Philbin as the clueless coach, Jeff Ireland as the generally hated general manager, and Mike Pouncey as Incognito's idiot sidekick.

Rated R for locker-room nudity, sexually explicit scenes inside strip clubs, and offensive jokes about Martin's sister.

Available on Blue-ray or in print in Ted Wells' "Report to the National Football League Concerning Issues of Workplace Conduct at the Miami Dolphins."

When New Times broke the story of a security guard nearly trampled to death on Ultra's opening night, public officials lined up to express outrage. After all, it wasn't the first calamity at the 16-year-old electronic music festival. For the second straight year, a young Ultragoer had died of a suspected drug overdose. Dozens more each year are hospitalized. Police-involved beatings and lawsuits are legion. But two politicians in particular tried to turn the trampling into a turning point for relocating the festival. "I think they have overstayed their welcome," said City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, citing the trampling as well as "serious and well-documented" drug abuse. Mayor Tomás Regalado echoed Sarnoff's anger. "I think we should not have Ultra next year here," he said. "We don't want to be showcased as the city of chaos." The two put together a resolution — based mostly on New Times clips — calling for Ultra to be booted from Bayfront Park. Sarnoff presented his own survey of downtown business owners that showed they were overwhelmingly against Ultra. And during a commission debate on the resolution, he went so far as to present a Twitter photo depicting a scantily clad woman snorting cocaine off another chick's snooch. But the resolution failed miserably, with no other commissioners supporting it. Their argument was simple and insuperable: Ultra makes Miami a shit-ton of money. "It really does put Miami on the map," Commissioner Francis Suarez said, noting that nearly 200,000 people attended and comparing the event to Art Basel. But there was another reason Regalado and Sarnoff's resolution was booed off the stage. They were outmaneuvered by Ultra organizers, who, just days before the vote, hired Miami Beach Police Chief Ray Martinez to oversee security for future festivals. The commission's vote insured that Ultra is here to stay. Meanwhile, the standoff cost the two politicians, Sarnoff in particular. "He lost a lot of clout on that one," says one local business owner. "What was he thinking?"

No one thought too much of the date on that February 2009 night when the University of Miami rechristened its baseball diamond "Alex Rodriguez Park." The Yankees slugger stood behind a lectern and watched as his name was revealed on the scoreboard. Then A-Rod made a seven-minute speech to his hometown crowd. He described sneaking into games without paying, an offense more than made up for by his $3.9 million donation. And he briefly mentioned his "mistakes" — a fleeting reference to the fact that his name had been connected to positive steroid tests seven years before. Like the date, no one on this night seemed to care too much about the tests. A-Rod received a 45-second standing ovation. Five years later, however, that Friday the 13th speech seems prophetic. Rodriguez's steroid nightmare wasn't as far behind him as he wanted everyone to believe. In fact, it was only just beginning. In January 2013, New Times published evidence that A-Rod had never stopped taking steroids. Instead, he had employed a wannabee local doctor named Tony Bosch to pump him full of performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez, who spent most of his teenage years in Miami, was suspended for a record 211 games by Major League Baseball because of the Biogenesis scandal. The U may not have removed his name from the scoreboard yet, but A-Rod's hometown rep is all but ruined.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®