Dajae Coleman appreciated the love and support he got from his family, particularly from his mom, who pushed him in school, and grandfather, who started working out with him at 4:30 a.m. every morning this summer.
Earlier: 14-Year-old Evanston boy shot and killed Saturday night
In his "belief statement" for his 9th grade humanities class, he wrote that: "my friends and family really care about me, they get me things I need, and they make sure I am always doing good in school. ... If I didn't have them, I would probably be very bitter and have a low self-esteem. I probably wouldn't care about my grades either, or anything. I'm very fortunate to have the family I have."
Evanston Township High School printed Dajae's essay on its website Sunday evening with his family's permission as a tribute to the 14-year-old who was shot and killed Saturday night while walking with friends on Church Street.
The essay shows a teenager who was loved and encouraged by his family, and who recognized and valued that love and encouragement. (You can read the full essay by clicking on the PDF icon above.)
Here are some more excerpts:
"My mom helps me academically wise, she's very smart. When she knows I'm slipping in school, she's all on me. I'm very lucky to have her as my mom. ... I'm glad that I can joke around with her, too, that makes me very close to her, because we can talk about anything. She does a great job raising me."
"Another person who has supported me is my granddad. At the beginning of June we started going to work out every day at 4:30 in the morning at LA Fitness. ... It was a real struggle. He taught me that it takes hard work and dedication to get what you want. ... He's also very nice to me. He makes sure I have a lot of confidence in myself. Every time he sees me, he gives me compliments and he always says he loves me."