Lacosta Doby sat in a large dining room at a Golden Corral in south Charlotte, scrolling through his iPhone for videos to show of his son, DaQuan Shannon, playing sports.
He stopped at a clip of DaQuan sinking a 3-pointer in a game of basketball, and another video of his son as a 10-year-old rushing for a touchdown in football. A third clip of DaQuan speeding by several defenders who were much smaller than him on a football field made Doby laugh.
“That’s back in middle school!” he said, grinning proudly at his son’s athleticism. “You see how tall he is?”
Sports, and particularly football, were DaQuan’s passion before he was gunned down outside of a QuikTrip last month.
The 17-year-old was shot outside of the convenience store on Central Avenue just after midnight on March 4, according to police. He was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he later died.
On Saturday, DaQuan’s family and a former coach remembered him for his love of the game. As a kid, DaQuan was a star player for the Queen City Tarheels, a Charlotte youth football team.
“He was football special,” said Michael Staton, DaQuan’s former coach affectionately called “Kool-Aid” by friends and players. “He had talent that a 6-year-old just doesn’t have.”
DaQuan joined the team when he was 6 after begging his mother, Tawana Shannon, to let him play. He had loved the sport ever since he was a toddler, when he would fall asleep with a football cradled in his arms, and he dreamed of playing in the NFL for the Chicago Bears.
He impressed spectators from the first day he stepped on the field, and he made plays that contributed to the team winning three championships during his time in the youth league. In middle and high school, he continued to shine in the sport and eventually played wide receiver for Myers Park High School.
“He just was a beast in football,” Tawana Shannon said. “It was like a blessing. A talent he was born with.”
Shannon joined Doby at the Golden Corral on Saturday, where DaQuan’s former youth team held an awards banquet to celebrate last season.
The two wore black T-shirts with a picture of their son smiling, as Coach Kool-Aid announced to the dining hall of young football players that the upcoming season would be dedicated in memory of DaQuan. The banquet quickly became a call to action to look for solutions for youth violence in the city. The group’s goal was to prevent the current mix of players from experiencing DaQuan’s fate.
Last year, in a record year for Charlotte homicides, nearly 75 percent of the city’s victims were black. Most of them were young boys and men.
While killings are down in 2018, that trend hasn’t stopped. DaQuan is one of five black males between the ages of 16 and 25 who have been killed in Charlotte this year.
“I feel disgusted,” his father said of the violence. “Even before it happened to my own child, I felt disgusted by that. I never thought it’d happen to me.”
Doby said he’d often warn DaQuan about violence in the city and pleaded with him to be careful whenever he left home. In the aftermath of his son’s death, Doby has struggled to sleep. He often finds himself awake around 10 at night, the time Daquan would call if he were out to let his parents know he was on his way back home.
In the months leading up to his death, Doby said DaQuan had trouble in school. He would sometimes skip class to avoid fights with other students, his mother said. In January, DaQuan’s parents decided it was best for him to switch schools, and they enrolled him in Garinger High School.
“He just grabbed me and started crying,” Doby said. “He said he got a second chance to make me and his momma proud.”
DaQuan was looking forward to a fresh start, and most importantly, to get back to football. He wanted to play for Garinger’s team in the fall, his mother said. His death robbed him of the opportunity.
The Queen City Tarheels have partnered with the Million Youth March of Charlotte to be a resource to the young players. The organization aims at preventing violence among the city’s youth and is run by DaQuan’s cousin, Mario Black. The key to preventing teen violence, Black said, requires adults working as a community to watch over kids.
“It takes a village. We need to get back to the village to prevent it,'” he said.
Parents also have to be more involved in knowing what is happening in their child’s life, Tawana Shannon said. The month since DaQuan’s death has been particularly rough for Shannon, who is left now with memories of her son’s captivating smile and athletic accomplishments.
She used to hate watching the news because she didn’t like to see stories about violence in the city. The news is now just a constant reminder for her of the pain mothers experience when they lose a child.
“Every time you turned it on, it was somebody dying.” she said. “It’s too many people dying these days and there’s nothing being done. To find out my child got killed by a gun, it’s really scarring me.”