FLORENCE COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A University of Virginia football player from South Carolina who was among three people shot and killed Sunday night on campus had a “bright future” ahead of him, according to one of his former high school coaches, who called news of his death “devastating.”
Wilson High School football coach Rodney Mooney got to know Lavel Davis Jr. when the two were at Woodland High School in Dorchester County.
“Lavel did not deserve what happened to him,” Mooney said. “He had a very bright future.”
Davis and two teammates died Sunday night after they were shot after returning to campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a field trip. Two other people were hurt in the shooting, allegedly carried out by former UVA football player Christopher Jones, according to police.
Mooney remembered Davis as one of a kind on and off the field.
“His smile, his work ethic was just second to none,” he said. “He was always a builder, not a divider.
Mooney said he first met Davis at a football jamboree, where high school teams get together and scrimmage. He was coaching a different team but said when he saw Davis he knew he had to be on his team.
Soon after the two met, Mooney said he took Davis and another teammate to a recruiting event.
“I knew him only two, three weeks at the time, but just having a great conversation with him, seeing how mature he was, how well-mannered he was, how driven he was to want to do great things,” Mooney said.
Davis did accomplish great before his life was cut short. According to his biography from the University of Virginia. Davis was one of 61 players and eight Atlantic Coast Conference student-athletes on this year’s Comeback Player Of The Year watchlist this year. As a freshmen, he was on the Freshman All-American Watch List, and he recently received the 2022-23 Danny Lee Fassio Family Bicentennial Scholarship.
“I’m really proud of what he was accomplishing day in and day out, so to get that news it was absolutely devastating,” Mooney said.
While this was a senseless crime, Mooney said it’s more upsetting that Davis lost his life while doing what he loved.
“Getting an education and playing football, and now his life has been cut short because of absolute nonsense,” Mooney said.
After the shooting, Jones was captured in Henrico County after a manhunt that last more than 12 hours.
“To know that he’s been captured and will pay for his crimes, that’s a relief,” Mooney said. “Because not only has he taken three lives, he has affected three families that loved those three individuals. He has affected a university. He has affected a state. He has affected communities. He has negatively affected a lot of lives.”
And Mooney says he’s tired of seeing young people die.
“At some point, these senseless crimes have got to stop,” he said. “I just want to see people make better decisions.”