Gary Russell Sr. is a former boxer, and he taught many of his 11 children, including Devaun Drayton, how to box. He sees the sport as a ticket that gets young men off the streets.
"It gives them a certain pride about themselves," says Russell, 42.
Devaun was quiet and gentle, Russell says, but in the ring, he had fast fists. At age 10, weighing 70 pounds, Devaun won the Silver Gloves, a national youth tournament based in Lenexa, Kan. Russell keeps the prize belt in his garage, along with nearly 100 other trophies that Devaun and his brothers won.
Sometimes Devaun lived with his dad in Capitol Heights, sometimes with his grandmother or mother in Northeast Washington. He was last in the District public schools system in May 2002, when he attended Browne Junior High. During the fall of 2003, he attended Glen Mills Schools, an all-boys institution in Concordville, Pa., that primarily serves juvenile delinquents.
After Christmas break, Devaun didn't want to go back to Glen Mills. Instead, he was spending much of his time at his grandmother's house, where the dangerous neighborhood worried his dad and sister.
Russell contacted a coach he knew in Davie, Fla., who specialized in training young boxers. Milton LaCroix thought he might get Devaun into the 2008 Olympics.
"He was an incredible boxer," LaCroix says. "Gutsy little kid."
LaCroix mailed a ticket for Devaun's flight. He said he'd be in town on Thursday, March 11, to take Devaun back on the plane.
At 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, March 10, Devaun's body was found in the parking lot of Phelps Career Senior High, a closed school in Northeast. He had been shot in the head. He was 17. Russell believes his son was killed because of a dispute over a pistol. Police say they are still investigating.
Devaun was buried with the plane ticket to a new life in the pocket of his suit.
-- Libby Copeland