In December, Knoxville, Tenn. teenager Zaevion Dobson died while shielding two friends from gunfire, saving their lives. Tennessee defensive back Todd Kelly Jr., a fellow Knoxville native, will pay tribute to Dobson every Saturday this season. He is changing his number from six to 24, which Dobson wore for Fulton High School.
Todd Kelly Jr. announced the number switch on Twitter this afternoon.
">August 1, 2016
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones spoke about Kelly's decision, and praised the junior defensive back today. From Rocky Top Insider:
“That’s something that TK – we talked long and hard about it and he wanted to represent him, his family and this great community,” Jones said. “And I think it speaks volumes again for TK – I will make TK available for you after practice today and I think you need to hear that from him – but I don’t want to speak for him and his character. But I think it speaks volumes for his character, but also for the Dobson family and how close they are to our family.”
Dobson was honored at this year's ESPYs, posthumously receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. From ESPN's release:
In December 2015, Zaevion Dobson, a 15-year-old high school football star from Knoxville, Tennessee, was forced to make a split-second decision—run to safety or sacrifice himself to protect those around him. Instead of running, Dobson used his body to protect two girls from a barrage of bullets, ultimately giving his life to save theirs.
Zaevion Dobson, a sophomore at Fulton High School in northern Knoxville, was considered one of the city’s great success stories as both a promising football player and mentor to his peers. Dobson’s selfless act of bravery made him a national hero. Zenobia Dobson, Zaevion’s mother, will accept the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on his behalf, accompanied by Zaevion’s brothers Zack Dobson and Markastin Taylor.
“The family of Zaevion William Dobson accepts with great appreciation the honorable Arthur Ashe Award on behalf of our beloved young man of valor, who sacrificed himself to save others,” Zenobia Dobson said on behalf of the Dobson family. “Arthur Ashe was a leading example of strength and courage for us as a family, and we feel truly blessed and honored that our Zaevion joins the ranks of honorees. Like Arthur Ashe, Zaevion faced obstacles, but he overcame them. With this award, we know that Zaevion’s name and example will never be forgotten.”
Kelly has 79 total tackles and six interceptions in two seasons at Tennessee.