Who Was Zaevion Dobson? President Obama Mentioned The Heroic Tennessee Teen In His Gun Control Speech
President Obama delivered a speech Tuesday on executive actions he plans to take on gun control. In detailing his plan, he cited the many instances of mass shootings that have forced his hand on the issue. His closing remarks were particularly emotional. Obama mentioned what happened to a high school football star who sacrificed himself to save three other teens from gunfire. The president quoted John 15:13, stating that "greater love hath no man than this than a man lay down his life for his friends." Who was Zaevion Dobson, the heroic Tennessee teen whose last act of bravery has gained national attention?
The 15-year-old was a varsity football player for Fulton High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, where he played as a fullback and middle linebacker, and was set to graduate in 2018. Dobson was as known off the field as he was on it, having served as a mentor in the community. Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero considered Dobson to be a "one of our success stories" in the community. Following Dobson's funeral on Dec. 27, his former math tutor, Jihad El-Amin, talked about his character and sacrifice:
That was the ultimate sacrifice to say, 'I will think about other people other than myself' with no hesitation. A lot us can’t say that would’ve been our instant thought to think about the others that we were with and to protect them over ourselves. If you knew the young man and he laughed with you, smiled with you, talked to you, shared his life and time with you and if you were around that family you would know that he was worth it.
Dobson was reportedly walking home on the small suburban street of Badgett Drive with a group of friends on Dec. 17. The teen was just outside his friend Jakaila Green's house when a vehicle came down the street and the suspects inside opened fire. Three girls were on Green's porch at the time, and rather than run to safety, Dobson dove in front of them to shield them from the bullets. He was fatally struck in the head and died at the scene. One of the suspects, Brandon Perry, who was thought to be the driver of the vehicle, was shot and killed later that evening.
Obama's statements about Dobson directly reflect the teen's heroism. The president implied that his sacrifice is part of what inspired his executive gun control action:
We are not asked to do what Zavion Dobson did, we're not asked to have shoulders that big, a heart that strong, reactions that quick. I'm not asking people to have that same level of courage or sacrifice or love, but if we love our kids and care about their prospects and if we love this country and care about its future, then we can find the courage to vote, we can find the courage to get mobilized and organized, we can find the courage to cut through all the noise and do what a sensible country would do.
A GoFundMe campaign to assist Dobson's family following his death exceeded its $60,000 goal, with all additional funds going toward a memorial of the fallen high schooler. A scholarship has also been planned in his name at Fulton High School. Obama's gun control plan further honors the teen's memory, while helping to ensure that similar instances do not become the norm.