Provo, Utah – A current BYU player has been affected by the tragic shooting at the University of Virginia (UVa.) that claimed the lives of three Cavalier football players.
BYU starting safety Micah Harper was the best friend of one of those players. Virginia wide receiver Devin Chandler was shot and killed Sunday night in Charlottesville. Their relationship was as elementary-aged children at Ewa Beach on the island of Oahu, Hawaii.
There are no words to describe this tremendous loss for our UVA football family. Lavel, Devin, D’Sean – you will all be greatly missed and we will never forget the impact you had on our team and community. pic.twitter.com/xdiq9KCU17
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) November 15, 2022
BYU player loses best friend in UVA shooting
As news of the tragic shooting that claimed the lives of Chandler and two other Virginia football players, LaVall Davis Jr. and DeSean Perry, began to spread around the world Monday morning, BYU’s star safety sent a message to his friend.
“My day 1 from the sandbox rest in peace broda. IMA is living our childhood dream for both of us. I love you Dev.”
My 1st day from the sandbox to relax in Bruda. IMA is living our childhood dream for both of us. I love you Dev. ❤️🤞🏽🕊️ pic.twitter.com/1MHlD2eEHc
— Micah Harper (@micahharper_) November 14, 2022
Micah Harper met Devin Chandler when she was in the third grade
Harper met Chandler in third grade. They were then on the same Pop Warner team for three years and attended middle school together as part of the St. Louis high school system.
“Since we lived on the west side and the east side of St. Louis Island, I carpooled with him to school every night, every morning, and went to practice with him,” Micah Harper said. “I carpooled with him and we spent weekends together. For four or five years I spent every day with him.
The two played football together from fourth through seventh grade before Harper moved to Arizona to continue his prep career in eighth grade. Chandler, who was in the same 2020 recruiting class as Harper, also transferred to the Mainland. The 6-foot wide receiver became a three-star prospect at William Amos Hough High School in North Carolina, where he eventually signed with Wisconsin.
Chandler transferred to Virginia for the 2022 season.
Their closeness continued throughout their college football careers
“We kept in touch in college,” Harper said. “There was actually a time when he was at Wisconsin and he was on the portal and we talked about going to UVa. I thought it was a good move because growing up, that was his dream school because his whole family is from there. So I thought it was a great move.
Chandler’s mother reached out to Micah’s father, Kenny Harper (a former Hawaii defensive back), around 6 a.m. Monday to share the tragic news, Harper said.
“I called his mum but his older brother picked up so I spoke to him a bit. I’m trying to give them space because you can only imagine the emotions their family is going through right now.
“He will surely put a smile on your face”
As Harper looks back on Dev’s life, he can’t help but smile for his friend.
“He’s definitely like a joy. He definitely puts a smile on your face,” Harper said. “I call him the goofy kid because he’s always doing something that’s going to make you laugh. Like something you’d never think about. His mind was always working differently.
Along with the laughs, the duo also had some success on the football field.
“We were from Ewa Beach so we played for Ewa Saints [Pop Warner team]. We got into it with our coach or something. So like the next season, we went to another team, the Kapolei Titans. Then we played the Eva Saints that year and we beat them 14-7. Devin and I scored a touchdown to win the game. So I thought it was a cool moment to be able to leave our old team, go to another team, and both of us score a touchdown.
Pursuing a childhood dream
The game of football served as a common thread for Harper and Chandler. BYU’s hard-hitting safety, who had 49 tackles this season, plans to pay tribute to Devin’s memory.
“Oh, sure,” Harper said when asked by KSL Sports if he was dedicating his game to Chandler. “When we were both little kids, he was my best friend. We always talked about playing this game and going to the next level. We always saw his older brother play, but he never reached the next level. We knew we wanted to be different and get to college. Our ultimate goal was to play professional football.
That ultimate goal of pro football for two best friends on the island of Oahu serves as more fuel for Harper to keep going now.
“The last text he sent me was talking during the week of the Liberty game because I was trying to get him to the game. The last sentence was, ‘Do you intend to declare [NFL] The draft next year?’ Or something like that. I was like, ‘That would be great in a perfect world.’ He said that was his goal too and we have been talking about it since we were little kids. When I saw it in the DMs the other day, I was like, ‘Man, I need to go find him and fulfill both of our childhood dreams.’
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Track Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12-3pm) on KSL NewsRadio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.