ST. LOUIS – Just days removed from a horrific shooting, Shaquille Latimore may soon take his first steps.
The 30-year-old youth football coach is recovering after he was shot during practice Tuesday in front of his players. As he recovers from injury, Latimore was surprised Thursday by his CityRec football team, the BadBoyz.
“I got your back. I got your back,” they chanted as a team in Forest Park.
“Get well, coach Shaq,” one player said.
Latimore coaches a team of mostly 9- and 10-year-old children. The team met with his mother, Semiko, on Thursday afternoon. She was filled with emotion at the joyful greeting, one of her few breaks from her son’s bedside.
“It’s just amazing, all of the…” Semiko says and pauses as she struggles for words. “God, I can’t even talk – the outpouring of love and support that we’ve had.”
Semiko showed us a picture of her son in a hospital bed following surgery. He’s holding up his thumb in a photo that she believes says it all in his recovery from surgery, repairing vital organs struck by multiple bullets.
“He’s making amazing progress. He’s sitting up. He’s talking,” said Semiko.
Her son Shaquille was shot Tuesday evening in Sherman Park by a man identified by police as an angry parent. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office has charged Daryl Clemmons, 43, with first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the investigation. According to court records obtained by FOX 2, Clemmons was “upset with [the coach] for not starting his son.”
Semiko says her son is a married father of five, but he does not have his own child in the league. She says her son coaches because he wants to. “He gets off a 12-hour shift job and comes to coach these children,” she explained.
Just like his assistant volunteer coaches, Jennifer Perkins, told us “We just want to give back to our community. The streets are taking our children, and we just want to give back and make sure they have a better path.”
Assistant volunteer coach Darrell Jones added, “I find peace coaching the kids. I used to play myself, so I find peace coaching the kids.”
The coaches say counseling is available starting today for the players. During Thursday’s gathering at Forest Park, one of them said, “Everybody please pray for our coach.”
Semiko says she can feel the support, even from strangers, and so can her son. “The prayers,” she said, “Everything—thank you all. Shaquille sees them. He appreciates it all. I appreciate it all. Thank you, St. Louis. Thank you so much.”