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15 Year-Old Football Player Dies Protecting His Friends From Bullets

Fulton High School

Zoe Romanowsky - published on 12/23/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Zaevion Dobson is being hailed a hero in Knoxville, TN, and around the country for his courageous actions

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down his life for his friends.—John 15:13

Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old football player in Knoxville, TN, is being hailed a hero for giving his life to save others.

Two days ago, Zaevion was killed while shielding three teenage girls from bullets.  It was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, according to The New York Times:

After attending a basketball game, Zaevion was celebrating being done with school for the holidays when he headed into an apartment building to play video games with his friends, Darrell DeBusk, a public information officer with the Knoxville police department, said in an interview on Monday.

He and his friends had stopped to talk to some girls who were on a porch outside an apartment building when they were approached by at least two people.

“There was one question asked to someone who was near Dobson,” Mr. DeBusk said. “Then they just opened fire into the crowd for no reason.”

The shooting wasn’t simply random but related to gang violence that had nothing directly to do with the teenage sophomore or his friends on the porch.

Zaevion’s brother, Zack, was there when it happened and spoke to CBS:

“I picked him up, and I sat him in my arms, and I was shaking him, and I was like, ‘I love you, wake up, I need you, wake up,’” he said.

Two of the teenage girls who Zaevion shielded from bullets have called the high school football standout a hero.

“If it wasn’t for Zaevion, me or her would have probably been shot,” one of them said.

Zaevion is being called a hero by everyone who knew him — and those who didn’t — including President Obama, who tweeted: “Zaevion Dobson died saving three friends from getting shot. He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?”

But Dobson’s character was apparent to others long before he took a bullet for his friends. Mayor Madeline Rogero told CNN affiliate WATE, that he wasn’t just a football player but a mentor to his peers, and his coach, Rob Black, said the 15 year-old was liked by teachers and students at Fulton High School.

“This is a fine, fine young man who is a success story,” he said. “And I want to try to continue to celebrate the life that he had here and the impact that he made on his peers,” Black said.

David Rausch, chief of the Knoxville police department, also called Zaevion a hero: “I have a military background; that’s the actions of heroes.”

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