CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The mother of former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth spoke publicly days before her son was released from prison.
Theodry Swift spoke to WBTV via videochat Thursday evening from California. That’s also where she planned to be when her son got out of prison in North Carolina on Monday.
Carruth was released around 8 a.m. from the Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton.
"As of yet, that's the way it stands," Swift said. "I am not anywhere in North Carolina. I don't even think at this point I could sneak into Carolina."
Swift says it's tough for her. To everyone else, Rae Carruth has been many things - a football player, a convicted criminal, and an inmate - but to Swift he'll always be her child.
She claims she'll be missing a major moment in his life. She says it's hard knowing that.
“Yeah, it is. It is very hard. I just envision him finally being free. Just wanting to share that moment with him, but it’s all in his timing in what he wants and what he feels is best for me and for that reason I can wait,” Swift said.
She won’t disclose exactly what Carruth’s plans are post-prison, but she says she will be seeing him soon. She says she’s feeling a wave of emotions knowing a day approaches that she wondered if she would ever see.
"I was telling a girlfriend this morning that, one - I never thought I'd make it this far to see him get out. But what reason I don't know. I was in my 40s when we started this journey, now I'm in my 60s," she said.
Swift says they've spoken weekly over the phone from opposite ends of the country, but those days are coming to an end.
"If you took overjoyed, excited, all the positive words into a basket and shook it up, that would be me."
When Swift sees her son for the first time following his release, she thinks she’ll be looking at a changed man.
“He has grown so much. You can’t go into a situation like this one way and not come out changed for the better,” she explained.
She said the first thing she’ll do when she sees Carruth is “what any mother would do” – hug her son.
“I’m going to hug him and hold him for as long as I possibly can.”
Carruth was convicted in 2001 of charges related to the murder of Cherica Adams, who was eight months pregnant at the time of her death.
The 1997 first-round draft pick hired a hitman, Van Brett Watkins, to pull the trigger on 24-year-old Adams, striking her four times while driving her BMW on Rea Road November 16, 1999. The couple was traveling in separate vehicles after leaving a movie date at Regal Cinemas in south Charlotte.
A third car driven by a friend of Carruth’s, Michael Kennedy, followed behind the couple eventually pulling alongside Cherica firing shots in the driver side window, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Cherica Adams died four weeks after the shooting of multiple organ failures stemming from gunshot wounds. Her baby, Chancellor Lee Adams - now 18 - was delivered via C-section.
Cherica’s mother, Saundra Adams, has been by her grandson’s side as he’s fought to overcome the challenges that come along with his Cerebral Palsy diagnosis.
Swift says her son still takes responsibility for how the events of that November night took place so many years ago.
“In order to be forgiven you have to accept responsibility so with him those were his words – ‘I take responsibility’ and when you look at that it takes a hell of a man to do that,” said Swift.
When asked about her thoughts regarding the incident and the death of Cherica, Swift was hesitant to speak about what happened.
“I stay away from that. I really do. We can talk about how this has affected my life and my family and what it’s been like to go through the 19 years. I’m just going to be honest with you. That’s an area I try to stay away from,” said Swift.