KNOXVILLE – East Tennessee already knows his name, but millions of people Wednesday night will hear the name Zaevion Dobson, the Knoxville teen who gave his life protecting two girls from gunfire. Dobson has been named this year’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award winner at the ESPYs.
Just seven months ago, Faith Gordon, 17, and Kiara Rucker, 16, found themselves in a life or death situation. They were hanging out with their friend Zaevion Dobson and a few other young people – innocent kids just sitting on the front porch of Gordon’s aunt on Badgett Street in Lonsdale.
“We were only there for like 15 minutes. We were just sitting there talking and laughing, and next thing you know, it’s like a couple of guys… they walk, they just stop, and they stand for awhile and we’re all trying to figure out like what’s going on, what they’re doing, who they are,” said Gordon. “They started shooting. At first I was just kind of standing there. My friend Kiara was standing there.”
Gordon says other kids ran from the porch, but she and Rucker didn’t move and Dobson stayed with them, shielding them from the gunfire.
“He had dropped to the ground by then and he grabbed us and he was trying to put chairs on top of us. He was telling us to get down,” said Gordon.
“When I looked up, I could just see that they were aiming and shooting,” said Rucker.
“A couple minutes after the shooting, my friend Kiara was like, ‘I’m going to open the door and y’all crawl in.’ So we go, and she opens the door and when I walked, I tried to get up but Zaevion was on top of me and I kind of like pushed him over and I was like come on, stop playing. We didn’t realize that he had got shot,” said Gordon.
The girls quickly knew without a doubt that Dobson was dead.
“When I first realized he was dead, I don’t know, like I was just kind of – I think he died instantly. I thought he was dead when I first figured he got shot,” said Gordon.
The two girls are trying to move forward with their lives, forever changed after that tragic night. They carry a new responsibility because of the actions of their brave friend.
“I feel like I’ve got to do some things, just accomplish some things just because I got a second chance. Because what he did a lot of people wouldn’t do. Cause that was brave,” said Gordon.
“First graduate and then go to college and stuff and then try to go somewhere from Knox. I don’t want to be down here,” said Rucker. “I’m ready to move.”
We asked what they would say to Zaevion Dobson if they could.
“I would tell him thank you. I mean… I really don’t know, don’t know what I could say,” said Rucker.
“I don’t know, just got to make the best, keep his name alive and all that,” said Gordon.
The ESPYs aired Wednesday night at 8 p.m.