On Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016, the UT College of Law hosted Zenobia Dobson for the 2016 Charles H. Miller Lecture in Professional Responsibility.
Dobson is the mother of the late Zaevion Dobson, who died on Dec. 17, 2015 while shielding two of his friends from gang-related gunfire.
Zaevion was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2016 ESPY Awards in July, which his mother accepted on his behalf.
Since the death of her son, Dobson has invested her time and attention into the Zaevion Dobson Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization that hopes to build safe recreational centers for the youth of under-served communities such as the Dobson family’s home of Lonsdale in Knoxville.
Dobson began her speech by recalling her son’s life.
“His death was a tragedy,” Dobson said. “But I want you to know that he did not die in vain.”
According to his mother, Zaevion held a passion for football and his education, hoping to attend college on a football scholarship in order to become a writer.
She said football helped Zaevion develop positive characteristics that led him to save the lives of his two of his friends.
“I was devastated, but I was not surprised,” Dobson said.
Dobson said she channeled her grief into creating the foundation with the help of her attorneys, Ursula Bailey, Esther Roberts and Ben Norris.
The foundation hopes to urge this city, among others, to provide adolescents with a sanctuary to learn, play and socialize in a place where parents won’t have to worry about their children’s wellbeing.
The last recreational centers within Lonsdale were demolished when Zaevion was in elemntary school. Dobson said they are an important place for children to grow.
“I was able to take Zaevion and his brothers [to the recreational centers] to play ball,” said Dobson, “but there’s kids in this community who don’t have that.”
Jeremy Cook, a representative of Pinnacle Financial Partners, expressed his company’s affiliation with Dobson and her cause, stating that his corporation was set up to receive donations to the foundation regardless of its presence in social media as of yet.
Although the board members of the foundation hope to have all social media information accessible by the first anniversary of Zaevion’s death, possible volunteers can offer their support at firstname.lastname@example.org at this time. Inquiries regarding donations can be made to Jeremy Cook at Jeremy.email@example.com.
Many audience members said they wanted to answer Dobson’s rally.
“It was a really touching story to hear,” said Caitlyn Gibson, an audience member. “Ms. Dobson’s courage to come forward and speak to us is very inspiring, too.”
Featured image by Bethany Daniel
Edited by Taylor Owens