The NFL honored the lives of Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr., and D’Sean Perry with a touching tribute, making them the night’s first picks before the 2023 draft officially got underway. The three University of Virginia(UVA) football players were killed in an on-campus shooting last November.
The tribute, which was broadcast live on ESPN and the NFL Network, began with words from UVA alumni Melissa Stark and D’Brickashaw Ferguson according to a news release by the university. “These men were more than talented athletes,” Stark said. “They were valued members of their community, known for their kindness, leadership and determination. They will live on in the hearts and minds of those who knew them and in the ‘UVA Strong’ community around the world,” she added.
Ferguson talked about who each player was individually, recalling their legacies both on and off the field. Perry, he said, was a “determined young man both on and off the football field. He loved music, poetry, and art. A multi-sport athlete who left an impression on all he came in contact with. D’Sean loved his mother and his siblings deeply. A man of strong faith, he gave back to his community by participating in youth ministries, youth football camps, and numerous community giveaway programs.”
Speaking on Davis, Ferguson said he was a “kind, smart, humble young man who held himself to the highest of standards. His life was grounded in his strong faith in God and his love for his family. And he had a special relationship with his grandparents.”
Commissioner Roger Goodell welcomed the families of each player on stage before naming Chandler, Davis, and Perry the first picks of a ceremonial draft. Each family was then presented with a jersey.
Perry was an honorary pick of the Miami Dolphins, while Davis and Chandler were picked for the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively.
The three football players were killed on November 13 when a gunman opened fire on a charter bus returning to campus from a class trip to Washington, D.C. Two other students injured were treated and released from the hospital.
Christopher Darnell Jones Jr., a former football player, and fellow student, was arrested and charged in the shooting.