INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- It took just moments for then 18-year old Rondell Allen to go from a football standout on Ben Davis High School's team, to a recovering gunshot victim last July. But nearly a year later, he's sharing his story as an effort is underway to prevent more youth violence.
"Where we come from it's just hard, we ain't got nothing and so it's just always hard for us that's why we play sports, sports are all we got," Allen said.
Football was more than a passion for the now 19-year old, but even with a laser focus on it, took just the pull of a trigger to change his senior year. The now 19- was injured in a suspect drive by shooting on the city's northwest side. Allen said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The only thing he thought about he said was protecting his younger brother, who was also in the car.
"He climbed over the seat, covered me," Ali Allen, 17, said.
When his mother, Althenia Allen, got the new she said she rushed to the hospital.
"They told me that he was fighting for his life and that he had passed twice and they were still reviving him," she said. "So the only thing I could do was call on the name of Jesus."
Rondell lived, but he is far from the only Indianapolis teen who has faced a similar fate, sometimes fatally. Just last week, three 19-year olds were shot in Central Indiana, two who died.
"I just think if we can come together and figure out ways to give these kids something to do it would be so much better," Althenia Allen said.
IMPD said while they are not seeing an increase in youth violence this year, the level is unacceptable. It's why they and the city are focusing on crime prevention, in part by engaging more teens.
"Intervening when we see there are behaviors that are manifesting themselves in a bad form," IMPD Deputy Chief Christ Bailey said. "I mean just this week I got pictures people sent me from Facebook with 14, 15 year olds with rifles slung over their shoulders in Indianapolis."
Next month, the M.G. Dad's Club Youth Football will host it's third annual "Stop the Violence Football Tournament" in Rondell's honor August 3-5th. In years past, it has been held in the honor of other young shooting victims.
"We all grown up so we all know that sometimes in that age you think nothing can happen to you when in reality it can. So sometimes when a kid sees somebody that they can relate to that happens to them, then hopefully I pray helps them make decisions and also let the community know that everybody's not out here bad there's black men that care about their kids," league president Anthony King said.
Rondell said he plans to talk with the kids there and share his story.
"Play sports, keep playing sports. It's gonna keep you out of trouble. But if you don't play sports find something that will keep you out of trouble most definitely because the streets, it's not there, it's not what people want," he said.
Rondell is sticking to that motto still. Despite about a dozen surgeries and countless hours of rehab, the only sign left of the shooting is a boot on his foot, and it's not stopping him from throwing the football.
"Working out so I can get back in," Allen said.
He plans to go to college in January and study business and sports management.