Evanston community unites for first annual Dae Dae World Weekend

The first annual Dae Dae World Weekend honored slain Evanston teen Dajae Coleman. Coleman was shot and killed a year ago Sunday.

Jennifer Ball, Reporter

The Dajae Coleman Foundation hosted the first annual Dae Dae World Weekend to commemorate the honor roll student killed near Evanston Township High School a year ago Sunday.

The high school freshman, affectionately known as “Dae Dae,” was mistaken for a gang member and fatally shot while walking home from school with friends Sept. 22, 2012. A 20-year-old man was charged less than a week later with Coleman’s death.

Dae Dae World Weekend was held Friday through Sunday and included four events to honor the slain teen.

The weekend kicked off Friday with Family Fun Night, which included roller skating, basketball games and an open-mic session for participants to share their memories of Dajae.

“We thought it would be good to have something positive to come out of a negative situation,” said Kim Frasier, a volunteer for the foundation, during Family Fun Night.

Another event on Friday, Shorefront, featured visual presentations of Dajae from students.

“The event was a vision of my daughter’s — the movement,” said Michael Rice, Dajae’s grandfather, at Shorefront.

He remembered that one day he took Dajae to the gym at 4 a.m. “He was tough,” he said.

In addition to being an honor roll student, Dajae played basketball for the Evanston feeder team and was going to be promoted to the sophomore team as a freshman, his grandfather said.

On Saturday, Dajae’s coaches played his friends in the DC3 E-Town Ballers Basketball Game.

“It’s an honor to play and do what he loved to do,” said friend Immanuel Woodberry, 15, before taking to the court.

Micquel Roseman, 15, played basketball with Dajae at Kingsley Elementary School and reiterated his friend’s love for the game.

“He always wanted to play,” Roseman said.

Tiffany Rice, Dajae’s mother and president of the foundation, presented medals “to uplift, encourage, empower and reward our youth” during halftime to students with good attitudes, work ethics, sportsmanship and listening skills.

About 40 sixth through 12th graders attended the basketball clinics Saturday morning at ETHS, and between 200 and 300 people attended Family Fun Night.

After the tragedy, Dajae’s mom found his belief statement from second period humanities class on his computer.

“I think the kids that are on the street not doing anything with their lives don’t get the type of support they need from family,” it read. “They probably don’t have anyone to look up to.”

“He was just an overall great person, like the person you would want to be,” Dajae’s cousin George Brandon Jr., 16, said.

Dajae’s mom and grandfather agreed he inspired his friends, both saying his “legacy is love.”

“Here you’ll see everyone that loved him, and he was very lovable,” Rice said Friday night.

“It’s just a great thing to be around everyone who loved him and knew him,” friend Travion Banks, 15, said.

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Twitter: @jennifercball