The Atlanta Falcons are usually my favorite subject to write about but occasionally there are events more important and more significant than just sports. Bringing a piece of my home region within the hustle and bustle of Atlanta, Georgia is always a great thing because I have never forgotten where I am from, but this story is truly tragic.
In 1995, I was a newly transferred junior stepping onto the practice football field at Bladenboro High School. It was a fresh start from my previous high school. The opportunity gave me what I felt was a chance to unite with some old friends from middle school, be closer to my then girlfriend, return to a smaller academic setting, and get a new start on the gridiron.
When I stepped onto that practice field, the vibe and feel was different. The coaching staff was different in part to the demographic of the school, which if not majority white, definitely was greater than my previous. You heard rumors of racism within the town but it was never reflected on the football field among my teammates, within the coaching staff, or within the faculty during my time at Bladenboro High School. However, something significant always stuck out when we practiced…..the backdrop of a Confederate Flag, high on a flagpole behind the school property in someone’s yard. I came to later understand the historical significance of the flag, and for some its prideful symbolism of the South, but for me as an African-American it served as a reminder despite how great your new start may be, there is someone that may not agree.
Fast forward to 2014, where West Bladen High School exists through consolidation and on August 28th here is Lennon Lacy, getting ready the next day to face West Columbus High in a Friday night football contest. Like anyone that has ever played football, getting your gear together is ritualistic. It must be perfect, because essentially if you look good, you will play good. Imagine a father waking up to see his son getting ready for the next day, having that father-son twinkle in his eye, full of pride that only that relationship can bring, hearing a door open and close, thinking nothing of it only to find that 7:30 the next morning his son would be found hanging from a swing set nearby; DEAD. Lennon Lacy was only 17 years old.
As much as negativity exists in our everyday news cycle, hearing tragedies such as these are heart wrenching. For me it was especially tragic because this is where I went to high school and I can very easily see myself in Lennon. A HANGING. Just the mere mentioning of such a savage way to leave this world tears at the moral fabric of society. A hanging under suspicion however is a different story.
There have been many reports and rumors surrounding the death of Lennon Lacy. Some say that he was depressed due to the passing of uncle, whom he was close with and he may have taken his own life, while others say that allegedly foul play was involved and may in part been due a relationship he had with an older white woman. Lacy’s mother claims that there were signs of struggle and that he had scratches and a knot on his head when coroners picked him up. There have also been other activity called into question such as the alleged switching of his Air Jordan Shoes for a pair much smaller when he was found and the desecration of his grave. It seems that the investigation into this case is far from done.
Officials from the Bladenboro Police Department and State Bureau of Investigation have reported that they have found no evidence of foul play, along with the autopsy report stating that Lacy died of “asphyxia due to hanging” and there were no skull, rib, or long bone fractures. The report even alludes to the notion that Lacy was depressed over his uncle. However, many in the community feel officials have not gone far enough to get to the truth about Lennon Lacy’s death. This story has gone viral and has just started to catch national attention.
The reality of the situation is that Lennon Lacy had dreams of becoming an National Football League Player. He was looking forward to having a successful season with the West Bladen Knights. He was a son, a relative, a teammate, and dear friend to a lot of people. His loss of life was tragic and the details are incomplete. This family needs answers and it is the hope that this story goes beyond the boundaries of Bladenboro, Bladen County, and even the state of North Carolina if necessary. Regardless of outcome, the results are no more or less tragic and the family seeks closure regardless of outcome. Please do not let Lennon Lacy’s story fade.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21 or reach him by email at Jamie.Walker@cbsradio.com.