When I turned on the news Monday morning, reports were a man in South St. Louis had been shot and killed overnight. His name hadn’t been released and police had no suspects in custody.
A woman in her 30s was also shot and killed in North St. Louis. Again, her name had not been released and police had no suspects in custody.
By Monday afternoon, the man was no longer nameless. He was Jaz Granderson, 27, of St. Louis. Granderson was an assistant football coach at DeSmet High School, a prestigious St. Louis County high school and football powerhouse. Granderson was a standout football player himself at Kirkwood (Mo.) High School and the University of Northern Iowa.
Granderson has been described as a good man who took advantage of his opportunities, made something of himself, and returned home to give back to kids.
His death is a tragedy in the literal sense because something so awful happened to such a good person. Granderson’s passing is also a tragedy for his family, teachers and coaches who poured so much into him and placed their hopes in his future.
Granderson being taken opens a deep wound among the kids he coached and mentored at DeSmet. How will they recover? How will they heal? How will they carry this scar? It’s also a tragedy for the community in that Granderson could have coached and mentored thousands of kids to reach his heights and beyond over a long career.
I’m also reminded of the woman killed hours before Granderson in North St. Louis. I still don’t know her name or what she did for a living. I don’t where she went to school or what community ties she had. I do know she’s gone, just like Granderson.
Most of the victims of violence we hear about remain nameless and faceless, but like Granderson, they had so much potential. They could have made our communities better places. We can’t continue like this. The future is literally dying. With all your might, please, for all our sakes, stop the violence!