A balloon release at his gravesite, in honor of his heroism and to celebrate the life that was cut too short – the friends and family of Knoxville teenager Zaevion Dobson gathered in tears as well as laughter, remembering Dobson, who was killed in a gang-related shooting while protecting two of his friends from the gunfire.
The event took place at New Gray Cemetery in Knoxville, organized by the two young women who Dobson saved.
Dobson’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, told WATE 6 On Your Side the gravesite balloon release was “all about him today.”
“It’s bittersweet, but we still must honor him,” she said.
Dobson, 15, died on December 17, 2015, during what police said at the time was a drive-by shooting that involved rival gangs. They said Dobson was hanging out with his friends and had no involvement with either gang.
The Fulton High School football player’s story quickly spread and eventually reached the White House. Dobson became the face of the local anti-gang movement, which eventually led to the opening of The Change Center just last week.
In July 2016, Dobson was posthumously given one of the top honors of the sports world, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage at the ESPYs.
Charges were finally filed in the case in August 2016. First degree murder and attempted murder charges were brought against Christopher Bassett and Richard Williams III. Kipling Colbert Jr. was indicted in June 2017. He was already in jail on other charges.
Nearly two years to the day after Dobson’s death, on December 14, 2017, Bassett was convicted of first degree murder, while Williams and Colbert were convicted of facilitation of first degree murder.