Six months ago, 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson, was shot and killed while protecting two female friends from flying bullets between rival gangs in Knoxville, Tennessee. The shooting, which was one of three to take place in Knoxville on Dec. 15 last year, was initiated by 23-year-old Brandon Perry, who died later that evening from a car crash after an additional shooting took place. 

Friends and family of Zaevion – including the girls he protected – have called him a hero. According to ESPN, even President Obama posted a tweet recognizing the late teenager’s bravery by saying, “He was a hero at 15. What’s our excuse for not acting?” Obama cited Dobson again in a January speech on gun violence and called his decision “an act of heroism a lot bigger than we should expect from a 15-year-old.”

Dozens of Chicago Police Brutality Videos Were Just Released to the Public

To honor Dobson and his heroic actions, the former football star will be honored at the 2016 ESPYS, receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Zaevion’s mother, Zenobia Dobson, “will accept the award on his behalf during the July 13 ESPYS ceremony in Los Angeles. His two brothers, Zacklyn Dobson and Markastin Taylor, also will be there by their mother’s side. 

Dobson will be the youngest person in history to receive the award, which was established in 1993. 

While sad, Zenobia Dobson is proud of her son, and told ESPN just how amazing he was. “He would light up the room,” said Dobson said. “He was just so sweet. He had a warm spirit. His spirit was awesome, amazing. He was an amazing son. He was so sweet. He would always compliment me. He would always compliment his friends.” As she continued, she said, “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t cry…I’m just so honored to be his mother.”

WANT MORE FROM ESSENCE? Subscribe to our daily newsletter for the latest in hair, beauty, style and celebrity news.

Loading the player...