The California road swing in mid-August took the Minnesota Twins to the pitch of the Angels and Dodgers and left Charles Adams III facing a tragedy.
Adams serves as team safety supervisor for the twins. He also coaches the Minneapolis North football team, which has been killed since sophomore quarterback Deshaun Hill Jr. was killed in a random encounter near a bus stop on the north side in February.
The camera crew documenting the Polars’ 2021 season made 15-year-old Hill a major part of the story. So producer Charles Box invited Adams to screen some of the footage in Los Angeles.
“He asked, ‘Are you ready?'” Adams said. “I said, ‘I’m fine.'”
The video begins with a photo of the Hill’s house from the outside, followed by a scene in the living room.
“It’s DeShawn and his parents, and I smile because I’m like, ‘My kids are gone,'” Adams said. Then Hill’s mother Sheppard spoke on Tuesday.
“She said, ‘He’s our ticket out of here,'” Adams said. “Then she said, like, ‘The only thing that worries me is when he’s walking home from the bus stop.’
“I’m done,” Adams said. “Within two minutes, I started crying.”
A few days later, fall practice began. Adams, a 1999 North High School graduate, faced a new challenge in his 13th season as head football coach. He has never lost a current player. He has two concerns.
“I want to make sure that whatever we’re doing for D-Hill and his family has to be dominated by the players and the team,” Adams said. “And I don’t want to forget about the other 99 kids I had. We’re remembering him, but we’re moving forward. I think it’s easier for us to recover.”
a new season
North is second in Class 2A with a 3-0 scoreline against St. Paul College/Minnehaha College/Black Wolves. A year ago, Hill threw for 186 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-6 victory. This year, Hill’s sticker was affixed to the back of his former teammate’s helmet. He was also in their hearts and minds.
Junior linebacker Kahlil Brown and junior linebacker Lamarcus Osborne are two of Hill’s closest friends. They remember Hill as a lazy young man with a stupid side. As an Honor Roll student who elevates his teammates through his actions.
Brown was allowed to wear No. 3. 9, the number Hill wears, salutes during practice.
“I want him to be on the court with me all the time,” Brown said. “I know he wants me to keep going, like he’s here. Anytime I have a question or think it’s getting harder, I think about what he’s going to do, he’s not going to stop.”
Brown praised Hill for having “the heart of the Warriors” after a postseason medical showed Hill fractured his leg during part of the season.
Since Hill’s death, Adams has found a similar determination.
“On the day of the funeral, I gained more strength around the boys,” Adams said. “Watching them grieving, I said, ‘Okay, Lord. Now I get it. I have to lead these boys. I have to escalate now. I have to continue to lead and be strong.’
“I’m just trying to create an atmosphere where these kids look forward to the opportunities ahead. It saddens me that D-Hill didn’t have the opportunity to take advantage of that. But I’m going to keep pushing every other kid.”
Hill was shot dead in February. On the 9th, the day of his funeral, Cody L. Flunkam was charged with second-degree intentional murder in Hennepin County District Court. A November 7 trial date has been set.
The same day Hill was shot, many North High students came out to protest the police shooting of Amir Lock. Adams said he was a little sad not to be there. A Minneapolis police officer for 20 years, he lost his full-time job as a school resource officer at North High School just days after the murder of George Floyd in 2020, when Minneapolis Public Schools ended its relationship with Ming Longstanding partnership with the Neapolis Police Department.
“I personally think that if I were still an SRO, he might still be alive,” Adams said. “I’m not blaming anyone for that. But I understand me, if I was still working at the school, he probably wouldn’t have left that building. I’d definitely be waiting at the front door. If they wanted another place to go, I Might take them to the weight room.”
The 2021 season of the documentary is scheduled to hit Showtime in January. After seeing Adams’ reaction to the first episode, Box skipped to the fourth and final episode. Hill filled the screen again.
“It hits you in the face,” Adams said, “because you see him dating, a kid, slacking off with his friends, and—boom, we’re at a funeral.”
A poster of Hill hangs inside the main entrance of North Soccer Field, a few blocks from the school. Adams called the realm “Holy Land,” but knew trouble lurked just outside the gates.
Before Friday’s home game, some non-varsity football players walked to the stadium and were threatened by a group of people with guns in their cars. “It’s our kids’ day-to-day life,” Adams said. “And it’s people they know. It’s amazing how these kids can function with so many distractions.”
Adams urged players to strive for bigger goals.
“I tell my kids, ‘You don’t have to play for me at all,'” Adams said. “‘But there has to be someone you’re working for. Find that person and commit to being the best person for that person.'”
For many North players, D-Hill is that guy. After a practice warm-up earlier in the week, the players repeatedly shouted out a call-and-response creed that made their motives clear.
“Who is this for? Nine.”