15-Year-Old Zaevion Dobson Was a Hero


“That day, we had a wonderful day, from the time he woke up for school. He was talking about his teachers and how he liked them. I dropped him off at St. Mary’s Hill and I watched him through the rear view mirror. He looked happy, like he had a glow around him.”

Later that night, Zaevion left home to go see friends. “He probably was gone about 20 minutes and that’s when I heard the shots. My phone started ringing, and I knew something happened.”

I was talking with Zenobia Dobson. On the night of Dec. 17, 2015, her 15-year-old son Zaevion Dobson died, protecting friends from a drive-by shooting. Since then, Zenobia and her two surviving sons, Markastin Taylor and Zackelyn Dobson, have had to go on. But today she mostly wanted to remember Zaevion.

“Lovable. Huggable. Handsome. Bold. Strong-minded. He loved his family and his friends. He loved school. He liked playing football. He wanted to play baseball after football season was over. He ushered and sang in the choir. He was a little shy to sing. He was a part of the young men’s group, 100 Black Men of Greater Knoxville.

“He would always tell me that he loved me.

“He wore the number 24. He called it ‘beast mode’ when he was on the field. He was glad when his dad showed up to see him play.

“He took robotics at Pellissippi State before his sophomore year. He and his brother Zack excelled at robotics. He and Zack were close in age. A lot of people thought they were twins. They dressed alike, they were competitive with one another, but they were best friends.

“Zaevion was a protector. He was the protector of my home, of his brother. [When the shooting happened] Zaevion had a chance to run, but he didn’t. He jumped on top of the girls.”

Zaevion was struck by a bullet and died at the scene. The girls survived. His mother regularly visits the spot — only four blocks from her home.

“Sometimes I ask him why. He knew exactly what he wanted to do. He was the protector. He was that bold. It didn’t surprise me, just to know that his life was taken to protect someone.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Glenn Harlan Reynolds