GTA San Andreas players already know about the Ballas - they are the main source of conflict in the turf wars against Grove Street Families (GSF).
While the Ballas are mostly nameless crooks (with a few exceptions), they still play a story-driven role. At the beginning of GTA San Andreas, they are starting to overtake GSF territories. It's been a bitter struggle for a while now, and something has to eventually give.
Identifiable by their dark purple clothing, the Ballas are a major threat to be dealt with. They stand in stark contrast to the GSF and its brightly-lit green attire. GTA San Andreas doesn't expand on their history too much. However, there is just enough to get an idea of where they began.
The history of the Ballas gang in GTA San Andreas
GTA San Andreas players will encounter various Ballas gangs throughout Los Santos. They mainly control the east side, along with Idlewood, Jerfferson, and Willowfield. Their headquarters is stationed in Glen Park. If they see rival gangs or CJ, they will attack without provocation.
Unfortunately, GTA San Andreas does not prioritize the Ballas with important named characters. There are a few that appear in a couple of missions. However, they are simply targets to eliminate. GTA San Andreas lacks characterization for the Ballas, outside of their hostile pedestrian dialog.
There isn't much known about their early history. In fact, the website for GTA San Andreas outright states they are "shrouded in mystery." The website also states they originated in the 1970's.
What is known is that 1987 is the earliest year of conflict between the Ballas and GSF. With the events of GTA San Andreas, they've been going at it for more than five years, possibly longer.
In 1992, the Ballas tried to assassinate high-ranking GSF member, Sweet. During a drive-by, they fired many shots at the Johnson house. While Sweet wasn't there at the time, his mother was, and she was tragically killed in the incident. Her death is what prompted CJ to return after a five-year absence.
Ballas vs Grove Street Families
When CJ made his return, he realized the Ballas now controlled most of Los Santos. The GSF was reduced to its base-of-operations (Grove Street) and a few nearby neighborhoods. Several GSF members had already died, including the likes of Tony, Big Devil, and Little Devil.
CJ did manage to briefly turn the tide. Missions like Cleaning Up the Hood and Drive-By give GSF members some much-needed retribution. They even managed to kill Little Weasel and take over Glen Park. No love was lost when the GSF crashed his funeral. Ballas gang leader Kane was killed here.
Despite their sudden losses, however, the Ballas had a few tricks up their sleeve. Unlike the anti-drug GSF, Ballas had no qualms dealing these products. They would start to weaken the GSF by turning them into crackheads. More importantly, the Ballas would start to gain new allies for the upcoming war.
Big Smoke's betrayal and their sudden rise
During the darkest hours of GTA San Andreas, Los Santos begins to bleed purple. The streets were swept with crack-addicted homes. Not only were the GSF territories divided, key members also defected to the enemy side (Big Smoke and Ryder). The GSF was in a weakened state at this point in the game.
With the political backing of corrupt law enforcement, the Ballas were the undisputed kings of the streets. The Johnson brothers were already taken care of. Sweet was incarcerated while CJ was exiled into the countryside. The remaining GSF members went into hiding.
For most of GTA San Andreas, the Ballas were major players with their crack-cocaine product. They had business relationships with both local and international gangs. Big Smoke also paid the Ballas to protect him in his palace. With no remaining enemies to worry about, the Ballas ruled over Los Santos.
The ultimate downfall
CJ was a man on a mission - to bring down the Ballas and put an end to Big Smoke's reign of terror. By the time he returned, he wasn't a dirt-poor gangster anymore. He had powerful connections, various properties, and a large arsenal of weaponry. Sweet was eventually released from prison thanks to CJ.
The Johnson brothers went on to reclaim their former turf in Ganton, starting with the mission Home Coming. They even took over Glenn Park in the mission Beat Down on B Dupp, as well as Idlewood in Grove 4 Life.
By the climax of GTA San Andreas, Big Smoke and the Ballas are finished for good. Players can take over the entire Los Santos area, leaving their rivals with little-to-no power. GSF finally won the bloody war against the Ballas.
Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.