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Wed Jun 13, 2018, 11:40 AM

Violence leaves a damaging imprint on New Orleans children


In "The Children of Central City," a project launching Wednesday (June 13) online at NOLA.com and in print in The Times-Picayune, reporters Jonathan Bullington and Richard Webster, photographer Brett Duke and videographer Emma Scott document the devastating effects of violence on New Orleans children. They will tell the stories of the A.L. Davis Park Panthers 9- and 10-year-old football team, explain the science of what trauma does to a child and examine the gaping holes in the safety net that should help New Orleans youngsters heal.

Violence has left a heartbreaking imprint on the Panthers. Twenty-eight former players were killed between 2003 and 2017, and some of the youngsters on this year's team already have experienced shocking violence. One player was only 3 years old when he and his brother discovered his mother's body on the kitchen floor. She had been shot to death. Another teammate was 5 when he saw a man shot at a Church's Chicken. Both players have struggled with stress, anger and depression, their families said. Of course, they have.

Long-time Panthers coach Jerome Temple, who is better known as DJ Jubilee, started keeping the sad list of lost players after Hurricane Katrina. "My manager would call and say, 'Jube, you hear about your ballplayer who got killed?' I'd say, 'Who?' He'd say, 'Tyrone.' He'd say, 'Jerry.' He'd say, 'Lil' Nathan.' All of a sudden, I end up with a list of 10 of them, then 14, then 16, 17, 18. I'm like, something ain't right here," he told our reporters.

The benefits of being part of a team have borne out for many of his former players, who have built successful lives. But the loss of those 28 players highlights not only the level of violence in Central City, but the lack of help for children exposed to it.

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