Hamilton dropped White off at the McDonald’s near Booker T. Washington’s stadium at around 7 o’clock, and before White got out of the 1999 Oldsmobile, Hamilton said to him, “Don’t do nothing stupid.”
A couple hours later, at about 9:15 p.m., White was dead, gunned down while walking home after the game. A 15-year-old acquaintance has been arrested and charged with murder.
The killing rocked Norfolk, and a few days later, the school district responded by moving all Friday night football games hosted by its five high schools to Saturday afternoons for the rest of the season. The city is wrestling with a difficult series of questions: How can schools keep students safe while preserving traditions enjoyed by players and fans alike? When Friday night lights move to Saturday afternoons, what is gained and what is lost?
At the news conference to announce the decision last week, the school district stood firm alongside the Norfolk police and sheriff, making it clear that daylight would be one of the city’s most important allies in preventing another death.
“We are not omnipresent 24 hours of each day,” said Norfolk Public Schools superintendent Dr. Samuel King, addressing reporters at the press conference. “We as citizens of Norfolk must all join together in a united front to help keep our streets and neighborhoods safe.”
High school football Fridays, an American symbol that attracts even casual fans like David White, didn’t kill the 19-year-old. But in Norfolk, it currently is associated with the dangers of night, and is a reminder of his death.
Sleepy place in light of day
A week after the shooting, White’s funeral and the first Saturday football game for Lake Taylor were both scheduled for the same afternoon.
Hundreds of mourners packed the Metropolitan Funeral Home on Berkeley Avenue in Norfolk on Oct. 6, escaping 90-degree heat outside. A three-piece band played in the corner, and ministers read aloud from the Bible.
Speakers denounced violence, and called for people in the crowd not to retaliate in the streets. Sympathy cards from principals at Booker T. Washington and Lake Taylor were sent and read aloud.
White was remembered as a boy who had grown into a man, and he was only one class shy of graduating from Lake Taylor. He was preparing for the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test to gain entrance into the Navy after high school, and one of his dreams was to travel the world. His teachers called him “King David” because of his reputed devotion to Sunday school at the Good Shepherd International Miracle Center, and his friends remembered him as “Deeboy,” a dude that could really sing.