MESQUITE, Texas – Odell Edwards sat in a corner of the bleachers away from the other parents. He didn’t want to be a distraction.
He knew that if they spotted him, they would walk over solemnly, offer hugs, prayers, or recall his youngest son’s smile and athleticism. So he sat alone.
As Edwards scanned the brightly lit turf where the Mesquite High School football team would play their season opener, he paused to look at the new decal on the back of each player’s maroon helmet, white circles with two maroon letters: “JE.”
For his 15-year-old son, Jordan Edwards.
“Every day I think about him being gone way too soon,” Edwards said. “It would have been nice to see him out there on the field one more time.”
Jordan died in April when a police officer fired on a car filled with black teenagers as it pulled away from a house party. It was another case of an unarmed African American killed by a white officer. In Mesquite and other suburbs east of Dallas, the reactions echoed those after similar shootings elsewhere — anger, disbelief, resignation.
On the Mesquite football team — the Skeeters — coaches have become grief counselors of sorts. They try to honor Jordan’s memory while urging their players to focus on the future, both as athletes and young men. Since the shooting, Jordan’s teammates have become more wary. At least one turned to prayer.