Louisville’s first football game last season was a dazzling performance by Lamar Jackson. I was lucky enough to be there in person. Sure, Charlotte was not a high quality opponent but it was clear that the young man in the pocket was doing something special. At halftime, Lamar had eight touchdowns. That’s right, eight.
Over the course of the first half, the person next to me became a cheering partner. I was sitting in a section with several coaches wives and former players, but I didn’t recognize the person I was next to. Finally, in the second half, as the blowout wore on, I asked his name and whether he too was a former player. “Abe Brown, linebacker,” he replied.
Abe had brought a big crowd with him that night. I can’t even remember how many children were part of his group, but it was easily more than a half dozen. Several other former players came up to him during the course of the game to talk about their own glory days and the ten years since their collegiate careers had ended.
We talked about his pursuit of a Master’s degree, the youth teams he was coaching, and finally, after I built up the nerve to ask, that heartbreaking 2006 Rutgers game (for which he scorned me for bringing up). It was fun to hear his insights into what playing for Coach Petrino was like, what went wrong in Piscataway, and what it was like to meet Muhammad Ali at the Orange Bowl.
We talked through much of the second half until, as any true Louisville fan does, he got up to leave with several minutes left in the forth quarter. We shook hands and I wished him luck with his degree.
I didn’t hear anything else about him until today, when I heard that Abe Brown had been among the four murder victims on a deadly Thursday night in Louisville.
It’s a somber reminder of how real this crisis is in our city. This weekend there are four families planning a funeral instead of planning their Easter lunches.
Last year, the deadliest year in Louisville’s history, we at Pegasus Institute got to work on a plan to help reduce violence. We sought the advice of the best criminal justice minds that we could find to help us solve the rapid increase in violent crime. There will be a more formal roll-out in the next few weeks, but we are reminded every day of the importance of the work. We call the plan that we’ve developed “LIVE,” the “Louisville Initiative for Violence Eradication.”
We have to empower our communities and work together to make changes, and give our police officers the right tools and strategies to succeed. The LIVE initiative does that, and I am confident that it will help our police officers focus their effort, bring peace to our communities, and save lives. It will help more people in our city LIVE.
As you gather with your families this weekend, say a prayer for the more than 200 families that have lost a loved one to senseless violence in the last two years. Let’s all get to work fixing this.
Enough is enough.