Zaevion Dobson’s jersey number, 24, can be found all over Fulton High School. Once used to identify a high school football player, it’s now gaining national recognition after the news broke Dobson would receive the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
Dobson will receive the honor posthumously July 13 at the ESPYS. A few other names who have also won the award since its introduction in 1993: Jim “Jimmy V” Valvano, Muhammad Ali, Nelson Mandela, and Pat Summitt.
The Knoxville community remembered Dobson, who died in December protecting girls from gunshots, as a hero.
“He was a fine young man,” Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said. “He was an outstanding example of what we hope the youth in our community are and his life was just snuffed out needlessly.”
Dobson’s story has spread across the country. President Barack Obama even shared his story in a speech in January. Back home, the Fulton football team is still coping with his loss. The players plan on honoring him as they walk down the bleachers in the fall.
“Some of our guys are still hurting and they hurt bad,” Rob Black, Fulton football coach, said. “And I know they are going to hurt for a while.”
The Fulton basketball team wore warmup shirts with a tribute to Dobson on them before its state championship game. Fulton defeated Brainerd 59-50.
Dobson’s brother, Zach, recalled thinking about Zaevion the moment before he won the long jump state title in May.
“I got the crowd rocking with me and I thought about my brother and I just jumped,” Zach Dobson said at the time. “I just want to give all my glory to God and my brother.”
Dobson, who died at 15, continues to change lives even though his is over. The world will celebrate his heroism July 13.