INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Oct. 26, 2015) - A youth football team is overcoming tragedy after two players were gunned down in separate shootings.
The Indy Steelers played in the youth football league championship Monday night. Although the team lost, players and coaches are proud of how far the team has come. They completed an undefeated regular season, despite losing two players.
In March, 9-year-old Ty-Juan Preer was hit by bullets during a drive by shooting at a used appliance store. He is partially paralyzed. Ty-Juan attends every game he can to cheer on his team-mates. He told FOX59 on Monday night he was feeling good and was excited to watch his team play in the championship game, although he is forced to sit on the sidelines.
The team faced another heartbreaking loss. In September, 10-year-old Deshaun Lee Swanson was killed in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Coach Ronnell Atkins said he was devastated over the loss.
“It was very hard to tell a bunch of 7, 8, 9 year olds that a close friend of theirs had been gunned down," Atkins said. "How do you explain to someone their friend had been gunned down and he had nothing to do with it?"
Atkins said the young boys asked a lot of questions, shed many tears and are still dealing with the heartbreak. He said, though, the one thing pulling them through is football.
"It's a very positive outlet. A lot of people think we're just out here teaching football and how to run a touchdown or how to run certain plays, but we're a family."