ST. LOUIS – A youth football coach shot by an angry parent in St. Louis last week is annoyed after the city’s recreation division canceled the rest of his team’s season. The shooting happened in the middle of practice last week at Sherman Park.
Coach Shaquille Latimore feels the city is punishing kids for an adult’s actions.
“Honestly, to me, it’s like a big middle finger,” Latimore said.
The last time we heard from Latimore, the 30-year-old youth football coach was in a hospital bed. Five days later, he’s out of the hospital and improving. He said he feels blessed but is in disbelief the city canceled his team’s season.
“It really makes me angry, because we are supposed to be about the kids,” Latimore said. “It’s supposed to be about the kids. And here we are taking the season away from these kids.”
The kids aren’t happy, either, watching teams they beat get to keep playing. Just ask 10-year-old Antonio Gray.
“We’re better than them, and they’re in the playoffs. I’m trying to figure that out,” Gray said. “Super Bowl. They took that away from us over one person, one thing.”
Latimore said despite this disappointment, the outpouring of support has been phenomenal. A GoFundMe started by his family has taken off, with more than 200 contributors donating more than $10,000 for his medical expenses. He plans to get back to his day job as a forklift operator as soon as he’s healthy enough to work again.
Latimore said he wants to coach again, but not for CityRec. Regardless of what comes next, the young coach has made an impact.
“When we do bad, he tells us to keep our heads up and finish the game,” Gray said. “It’s not about the beginning; it’s how you finish.”
Getting through hard times: a lesson Latimore said he hopes he can continue to teach his players.
“I just want y’all to see what a fighter looks like,” Latimore said. “When faced with adversity, what you’re supposed to do.”
FOX 2 contacted the City of St. Louis’s Recreation Division to find out why they decided to cancel the team’s season.
Here’s the statement they provided us:
“The city of St. Louis recreation division is committed to ensuring our youth have a safe place to play sports and socialize. After a series of incidents perpetuated by adults which culminated in Tuesday’s shooting, the recreation division decided to suspend the team’s participation in the CityRec Legends Football League. League rules are in place to ensure the protection of our youth participants, ages 5 to 13, and we will continue to uphold them to ensure this football season is safe and successful.”