‘This hurts so much’: Youth football coaches remember teen killed in shooting

The teenager played several years with the NC Giants football league.
The NC Giants football league is remembering their player who was killed in a shooting on Thursday.
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 10:47 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A day after a teenager was killed in a shooting in northwest Charlotte, his youth football coaches are remembering his life.

CMPD says a child was killed in a shooting Thursday afternoon at the Birch Townhomes on Southwest Boulevard. While police have not released any additional details, coaches with the NC Giants say it was their player, Greg, killed in Thursday’s shooting.

“As a player, he was just outstanding, his leadership, his leadership skills was just out of this world,” coach Willie Smith said. “Man, he’s a leader. He’s got a nose for the football, anywhere you put them on the field he’s gonna play it. Man, he’s going to be missed. He was just a happy-go person.”

Smith and Aziz Saladin coached Greg for nearly five years with the NC Giants football league.

“He was the life of the party. That’s definitely gonna be the biggest thing why he’s missed because he’s the life of the party,” Saladin said. “When he stepped in you knew he’s there. He definitely kept a smile on everyone’s face. He’s a go-getter. He was silly, very charismatic. Really doesn’t make sense how this could happen to someone of his character.”

We have suffered a major lost in the Giants Family. To even put R.I.P beside a kid name is heartbreaking. Greg was one...

Posted by NC Giants on Friday, August 12, 2022

Both coaches say they were shocked to hear about the shooting.

“I got a phone call from his aunt and it was shocking, surprising,” Smith said. “He didn’t even get a chance to experience a piece of life.”

“This hurts so much because it’s football but a lot of us really live in the same neighborhoods and areas,” Saladin added.

A big hole is now left in their village -- one, as coaches, they see kids as young as preschoolers grow into teenagers.

“The coach thing is a title. You become a guardian,” Saladin said. “You become a family member to these kids and and it ain’t some, it’s literally all of them down to the cheerleaders.”

As they process the pain, there is also a message to the community.

“These kids and parents need to learn gun awareness,” Smith said. “Keep these guns out of these kids hands, keep these guns away from kids.”

Greg, according to the coaches, was set to play again this upcoming season.

Now, his memory will live on.

“Everything we do from now on, G14 going to be on our jerseys,” they both said. “From here on out, going to be for G14. Never forgotten, never will be forgotten.”

Greg’s grandmother, Yvette, needs $13,000 for funeral costs by Aug. 19 at 10 a.m.

Money can be sent to Yvette via CashApp at $MyJohns. It can also be sent directly to Rosedale Funeral Home by calling House of Rosadale Home of Funerals at 704-596-1929.

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