The tales their teammates spun brought tears and laughter less than a week after the three were shot to death on a bus that had just returned from a class field trip. The memorial was held on a day that would have been a home game against Coastal Carolina University. The contest was canceled days after the shootings.
The crime “pierced the peace and innocence that graced our Grounds,” Ryan said. “It changed our world.”
The man charged in the attack that also wounded two other students – Mike Hollins, a football player, and Marlee Morgan – is also a UVA student and former football player. He was caught shortly after the University emerged from a tense, overnight lockdown Nov. 14 while police hunted for the escaped gunman. He’s in jail seven miles from the site of Saturday’s memorial, charged with murder. Police have not revealed a motive.
“As a mother, and as the director of athletics, this tragedy has pushed me to my limits,” Williams said from a stage in front of portraits of the three slain athletes. “But my faith sustains me as I know it does many of you.”
As she spoke, her voice cracking, Williams looked down from the stage and into the front rows. There, the football players’ families grasped each other in grief, rocking back and forth. Filling the seats behind them on the arena’s floor was the rest of the football team, football alumni and other student athletes. Above them on the arena’s video screens were three black-and-white portraits of Chandler, Perry and Davis in their football uniforms, their smiles impossibly bright and charming.