Devin Chandler arrived at Hogg High School in Cornelius, North Carolina, a suburb of Charlotte, just before the start of his senior year. For most people, waiting until graduation means waiting for another fresh start, watching from afar friends who have known each other since childhood spending time together.
Devin was not many. He excelled in all aspects of his life – widened his eyes, smiled wider – and within weeks he would become an integral part of society. Life of the partyPeople called him. A smile that lit up the room. The purest soul.
He was an exceptionally gifted football player joining an already successful team, a wide receiver whose gifts on the field matched his enthusiasm. Howe’s head coach, Matt Jenkins, who learned the game under Joe Paterno, brought Paterno’s booted majesty to North Carolina. Not celebrating. Do your job. Act like you’ve been here before.
For Devin, football wasn’t a job, it was a joy. Any time one of his teammates scored a touchdown, he would run onto the field, waving his arms in huge circles, so jubilant that Jenkins feared a 15-yard celebration penalty would be drawn each time. He unleashed the entire Huskies program, and today, Hough players who don’t even know Devin Chandler still celebrate by throwing their arms in circles like he did.
Devin was a star without question, but he kept a level head. He befriended colleagues such as Oliver Calotta, a year below him in age and below him in skill. He gave Kalota the strength and will to continue on a footballing path that seemed to last.
“He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” says Calotta, who now attends Lewisburg College (NC). “He’s the reason I’m still playing.”
Devin graduated from Huff and enrolled at Wisconsin, where he ran back kickoffs and saw time at wide receiver. Six weeks into the 2021 season, he entered the transfer portal and found his way to Charlottesville, where he’s already become the life of a party in progress.
“He was everything you could want [competitively] “He was a big kid, out of a guy at this level,” University of Virginia head coach Tony Elliott said Tuesday. “Loved to dance, loved to sing.”
Even as he made his way through Power Five football, Devin kept in touch, checked in and checked in with those he knew along the way.
“The other day I was on the phone telling him about what I was going through,” Calotta recalled. “He never lost faith in me. He’d say, ‘Bro, we’re going to make it. You may not believe it, but we are going to do it.
Devin and Virginia teammates LaVall Davis Jr. and DeSean Perry died Sunday night, victims of sudden gun violence, an incomprehensible and all-too-common tragedy. The accused shooter, Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., faces multiple charges, including three counts of second-degree murder.
The nation is now learning the depths of what was lost and never happened.
LaVall Davis Jr. and DeSean Perry have made an impact beyond football
The University of Virginia is a shocked campus, the brutality of sudden, violent deaths on quiet and beautiful university grounds in the heart of a quiet college town. Students, teachers, coaches and teammates are all trying to process the tragedy, remembering the names, faces and stories of the victims.
“I cannot find words to express the devastation and heartache our team is feeling,” Elliott said in a statement hours after the incident. “These were incredible young men with great ambitions and very bright futures.”
Davis, a junior wide receiver from Woodland High School in Dorchester, South Carolina, loosened up the locker room with NBA talk and then outdid everyone on the practice field, Elliott said. He hit the ground running as a freshman in 2020, catching 20 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. His 25.8 yards per reception ranked second in the nation. Although a knee injury cost him the 2021 season, he performed well enough in 2022 that he began to gain attention as an NFL draft candidate.
Woodland athletic director Tiddles Siebert told the Charleston Post and Courier, “The world has lost an extraordinary young man. “He had such an impact on everyone he came in contact with. This is not fair. He had so much potential in life. This is devastating to the woodland community. This is the most difficult day of my life.
Inn A heartbreaking pre-season videoDavis praised the Cavaliers team and coaching staff, saying they are “like a real-life family.”
“As a group, we stick together,” Davis said in an interview with Charlottesville’s CBS affiliate. “We hang out with each other all the time, play games, go out to eat, go out together. We are like a real brotherhood.”
DeSean Perry is a junior linebacker and a 2019 graduate of Gulliver Preparatory Academy in Pinecrest, Florida, located near Miami. He was the South Florida Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Earlier in the weekend, in Virginia’s loss to Pitt, Perry had two solo tackles.
“This loss will be deeply felt. It was just an absolute tragedy. A terrible tragedy,” Gulliver president Cliff Kling told Miami’s CBS affiliate. His work in one of our art shows. He had a smile that could light up a room.”
“He was kind, thoughtful and caring at his core,” Gulliver football head coach Earl Sims told reporters Wednesday morning. “He was like a son to me, a gentle giant who added value and purpose to my life and to others. He will be truly missed.”
Elliott called Perry “the funniest guy on the team,” noting his love of classical music, art and pottery was unexpected for a linebacker.
Perry’s parents released a statement Wednesday saying, “Our family is devastated by the loss of our son, DeSean Perry. He was a loving, giving, caring, God-fearing young man, full of life and talent. , who made his family proud…His passions were football and the arts, but also for his family, friends and community.” His love has been demonstrated time and time again by his sincere dedication. We continue to keep in our prayers the families of the victims of this senseless tragedy, so many people.”
Grieving people open more than their hearts
The generosity of Charlottesville and the nation has been showcased in various fundraisers set up to help the families of the three. A GoFundMe to help Chandler’s mother, Delaina, has reached its $125,000 goal as of Thursday. A GoFundMe for Davis’ family had reached its $175,000 goal as of Thursday morning. A GoFundMe for Perry’s funeral expenses has reached more than half of its $25,000 goal as of Thursday, while a separate GoFundMe for Perry’s family is nearing its $150,000 goal. Half a million dollars was raised in just days, a half million dollars that should never have been raised for such terrible reasons.
Last Friday, in preparation for a playoff game, Jenkins, Devin Chandler’s high school coach, spoke with his team. He didn’t know it at the time, but he had already embraced Chandler and his life.
“I told them, young men are afraid to give 100 percent if there’s no failure or regret,” Jenkins recalled Wednesday night. “They will pay 90 percent and return 10 percent if they fail, as an excuse. Devin gave 100 percent to everything he did: football, schooling, loved ones, siblings, and classmates.
His voice cracked, but he only paused for a moment before leaving.
“I always tell my kids that if you look back in 20 years, you’ll be miserable. I wish I had given more,” he said. “Dev couldn’t look back for 20 years. But I can promise you he’s in heaven,” he says. ‘I have no regrets for what I did when I was on earth.’”
Three players are ahead of the world, three players whose lives and stories ended too soon. The depth of the tragedy is so great that it will last a lifetime for those who knew and loved them.