By Angela G. Barnes
The city of Evanston lost an inspiring leader, basketball star and trailblazer whose life was taken in what the Evanston Police Department has called a case of mistaken identity. What could have been the highlight of a young man’s life has instead become the highlight of his death.
DaJae Coleman, 14, freshman at Evanston Township High School was fatally shot and killed in the 1500 block of Church Street while walking home from a party on Sept. 22, 2012.
Wesley Woodson III, 20, of Evanston was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and aggravated discharge of a weapon after police say he targeted Coleman and his friends in retaliation from an earlier altercation Woodson thought they had with his family member.
Coleman’s mother, Tiffany Rice, says he was a loving son, talented athlete and an outstanding student with a passion for reading. Rice says she couldn’t let her son’s memory die. In 2013, she started the DaJae Coleman Foundation to keep his legacy alive and engage youth in active anti-violent protest.
The organization is designed to motivate youth, help them realize their full potential and give them an outlet to reflect on Coleman’s positive impact and core values that helped shape his life.
Because of his death others now have a chance to achieve their dreams through the DaJae Coleman Scholarship program. This unique program awards freshman students scholarships to help them build wealth for college.
The organization also provides free activities and programs for children in the community: Dae Dae World Weekend (held during the anniversary of Coleman’s death), Family Fun Night, Reading Initiative program and much more.
Rice says turning her son’s tragedy into something meaningful and positive for the youth in the community has helped to keep her moving.
Additional camera work provided by Anne Arntson.