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Tragedy Sparks Chester High School Coach To Do Something Amazing

Posted Jan 28, 2018

The tragedy on June 2, 2017 signaled a turning point in the lives of the players on the Chester High School football team.

Zion Abdullah, a 16-year old student-athlete on the football team, was unsuspectingly shot and killed on his way to school that Friday morning. The unimaginable and sudden news of Abdullah’s death devastated his family, the school, and his teammates.

From that moment on, the school’s football coach, LaDontay Bell, took action to ensure the safety of his players. Bell decided to drive players to and from practice every day so that an unfortunate incident like Abdullah’s wouldn’t happen again.

“At that moment, everything stopped for a minute and what it made me sit down and go home and ponder was what can I do differently? This is more than football,” Bell says. “So what I did was I told myself you have to love them more, and what I meant by that was be there to help them out when they really need me and that is when they’re going to and from (practice). In doing so, I decided to go back and forth with transportation with them just to keep them encouraged, just to keep them motivated mentally.”

As an appreciation for his selfless act, Eagles Hall of Fame safety Brian Dawkins made a special visit to the football team back in December and presented Bell with two tickets to the Super Bowl. The players thought he was well-deserving of the award because of his commitment to the team.

“It means a lot because really no other coach that I had did that for me,” says the team’s quarterback Tahree Fuller-Bryan. “For him to do that, it really means a lot because it shows that he really cares because he cares about this team and everybody on it.”

Earlier this week, Bell and the team's seniors took a tour of the Eagles' practice facility at the NovaCare Complex. The group was accompanied by Eagles players Nelson Agholor, Torrey Smith, Rodney McLeod, Jordan Hicks, and Mack Hollins. After reaching the Eagles' weight room facility, Bell and his players were surprised with a $10,000 check from the Eagles organization. The donation will be used to fund new equipment and enhance the facilities for the school’s football program.

“I’m speechless. I really can’t express it. I’m just going to say this, God is good,” Bell says. “He continues to blow my mind just being obedient to him. He’s putting people in my circle and putting me in position with people in front of people just to be a blessing to these kids. I’m speechless.”

Adding to the cause was the superintendent of the Chester Upland School District, Dr. Juan Baughn, who joined the team on the tour. Baughn later announced that he would match the team’s donation bringing the Chester High School football program’s grand total to $20,000 in donations.

“Nothing less than what I expected. Love this man,” says Baughn. “He’s been a blessing to me as well as the city.”

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