Like so many other works of genius, it started with raw emotion.
TerRio scored a bucket on his cousin's basketball goal and, feeling the moment, began to dance.
“Oooh,” cooed Maleek, recording his little cousin’s wrist-swooping routine on a camera phone. “Kill ’em!”
Six seconds later, the video ended, and Maleek uploaded it to Vine. TerRio's 16-year-old cousin had no idea that the clip would blow up into a social media phenomenon. He never dreamt his little cousin's dance would explode into a craze mimicked by millionaire athletes across the United States.
But explode it did.
TerRio’s dance flew through social media sites, hitting the Internet's funny bone like a beefy, wrist-swinging bunker buster. Share after share, the video made its way across the Web, and soon, TerRio and Maleek were cranking out “Kill ’em” Vines on a weekly basis.
Warning: Video contains NSFW language.
Thus began the "Oooh, Kill 'em" Movement—a phenomenon that has swept over pop culture and the world of professional sports in the past five months. Athletes of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities have gotten in on the trend, mimicking TerRio's signature moves for the camera whenever they have the chance.
Tavon Austin TerRio’d on the Colts in Week 10.
John Wall did the TerRio in a residential neighborhood.
Blake Griffin killed ‘em at a flag football game.
Hell, even Justin Tucker broke out the wrist-swirl after “killing” the Bengals in overtime in Week 10.
It should be noted that this is a No Judgement zone. TerRio's dance is one of the purest exercises in self-expression remaining in the world, and like the forming of snowflakes, no two athletes “Oooh, kill ‘em” the same way.
After returning a botched field goal 80 yards for a touchdown against the Seahawks, Jason McCourty went about "Oooh, killing them" softly. He strummed their pain with his hand swipes.
On the other hand you have Mychal Rivera of the Oakland Raiders, who scooped deep into that ice cream barrel when he decided to start killing them.
There's also the Ray Rice version, a playful display that looks less like "killing 'em," and more like splashing somebody who refuses to get into the pool.
Put simply, the dance has become the celebration du jour of 2013—this season’s “Gangnam Style." It's a move for athletes looking to combine social memes with clowning on camera, and seeing guys like Ray Rice lay it down in the end zone, it’s easy to forget that it all started in Riverdale, a small town 13 miles south of Atlanta.
Even more unbelievable is the fact that TerRio didn’t even come up with the dance.
According to Foster Kamer of Complex.com, the first-grader claims he saw someone “in the neighborhood” do it first, and he took over from there.
Foster reached TerRio and Cousin Maleek over the phone for a candid (if not a bit shy) interview. The two young men spoke on their new-found fame, favorite musical artists and how TerRio—a six-year-old—single-handedly “saved Vine” with his videos (Worth a read, if you have the chance).
Part of the interview covered TerRio’s favorite athlete, LeBron James, who dropped his signature “Ooh, kill ’em” catchphrase during a recent Samsung commercial.
Indeed, TerRio has came a long way since his first video, which dropped in June. His Vines and YouTube videos have racked in views by the millions in the past five months, and TerRio has since left his home in Georgia to tour the nation, appearing at sporting events and speaking at schools.
That's correct—a chubby 6-year-old is traveling America and inspiring the masses after becoming “Internet-famous” for his dance videos. That’s the flat, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo side of the story.
Another take, however, is that TerRio is a kid with a message—a kid who's just happy to be alive at this point.
According to Ashley Montgomery of the The Miami Times, TerRio’s manager Herbert Battle recently went on the record saying that the boy suffered life-threatening health complications as an infant.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but when TerRio was just 2, he was on life support,” Battle said. “As you can see from his infectious personality, he is really just glad to be alive.”
While much of TerRio’s touring involves dancing in front of fans and cameras, his appearances at schools carry another message. TerRio urges his fellow youngsters to stay in school, telling them that although he’s on the road, he continues to be tutored and has to keep up with his studies.
So goes the life of young TerRio—the spirit guide of athletes, celebs and swag-enthusiasts everywhere. It’s a whirlwind scenario for a young man who’s still a half-decade away from puberty. Unlike so many other kids his age, however, he’s been afforded the opportunity to knock items off his young bucket list at warp speed.
He’s already hung out with his favorite athlete, LeBron James.
He's developed a handshake routine with Dwyane Wade.
Strangers have begun recognizing TerRio in public, although sometimes they get their husky, elementary school kids confused.
Warning: Video contains NSFW language.
An admitted, aspiring rapper, TerRio has also laid down his first hit single, “Ooooh Kill ’em.”
Like so many other music moguls, TerRio doesn’t even step on the track for the song, leaving the lyrical lifting to Polo, Kay Luv and Kidd Willie.
Warning: Song contains NSFW language.
As a dance craze, "Oooh Kill 'em" came at the perfect time. In a day and age when officials have curtailed fun to an all-time low, sports needed a rotund, sashaying shot in the arm like TerRio.
NFL players can’t spin the ball “at an opponent." Defenders in college basketball can’t lay a hand on offensive players. What they can do, however, is drop that “Oooh, kill ’em." That move is still allowed, and for that much, we're grateful.
Big boy swagger is officially back (as if it ever left), with TerRio as its wrist-dropping, groin-shaking standard bearer.
He’s the leader of a sports and cultural fad—a craze that will likely pass by the time next summer rolls around. And that’s fine.
TerRio is just a kid, and by the time this has run its course, he’s going to need a long naptime and a snack (perhaps a healthy, mixed-green salad).
Because killing ‘em works up an appetite.
On Twitter, killing 'em when and where my schedule allows.