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Minnesota Youth Athletics Services


From Dawson's Desk : Deshaun Hill's Death and Impact

What should be routine and an exciting time for our winter basketball community-based end of season event, the MYAS 30th Annual Grade State Basketball Championships, I can't shake the death of Deshaun Hill, the 15-year-old student-athlete at Minneapolis North Community High School. While driving my kids to school, I explained to them the unfortunate events surrounding Deshaun's killing. By so many accounts, he is remembered as being kind, smart and ambitious and those characteristics were reinforced by Akua Kennedy, our new Program Director & Community Engagement Director, who attended North High and has a son there now.

I often read about the news accounts of young people killed in the Twin Cities, and I mourn the loss of lives and pray for their families. I was moved when I listened to sportscaster Mike Max showing his emotion on WCCO Radio, following the passing of Deshaun Hill.

But Akua's perspective on Deshaun Hill has given me a better understanding on the scope and impact of his death and the trauma people in North Minneapolis have been experiencing.

As someone in a leadership role, I embrace the opportunity to solve problems and develop and execute strategies. But I am at a loss when it comes to the challenges in North Minneapolis, and unsure of what to do and how to help.

A friend of mine, provided me some comfort when he told me, "You don't have the context, the insight, the influence and, frankly, ability to lead there."

Yet I know this: I can't just look away. I want to be present and available for Akua and the wonderful coaches and leaders and student-athletes that I am so fortunate to know in and throughout Minneapolis.

The case is still open, and Minneapolis police are still gathering all the facts. But what's indisputable is that Deshaun Hill was a fine young man, loved by so many, an Honor Role student, excelled in football and basketball at North High Community School and had his whole life ahead of him. Deshaun was a shining example of a young man following his dreams, being a leader in the classroom and on or off the field or court. Deshaun was doing so many things right and should have had the chance to fulfill his immense potential in all aspects of his life.

Our friends in North Minneapolis are hurting right now, and this should hit close to home for all of us. Here at MYAS, we are embracing that we are "One Team," regardless of where we live throughout Minnesota and the color of our skin.

After the deaths of George Floyd and Daunte Wright, it was eye-opening to me to learn about white privilege, something that I didn't even recognize, which just shows me how much I have yet to learn and grow.

I reached out to a friend closely connected to North Minneapolis the other night, just to check in on him. I listened, and I lamented. The next morning, he texted me to say, "Thank you for calling and listening.” I mention this because no matter how big or small the gesture, it’s making the gesture, recognizing when others are hurting, that can make all difference in the world.

Deshaun Hill
Deshaun Hill
Dawson Blanck, Executive Director of Minnesota Youth Athletic Services
Dawson Blanck, Executive Director of Minnesota Youth Athletic Services
Akua Kennedy, Program and Community Director for Minnesota Youth Athletic Services
Akua Kennedy, Program and Community Director for Minnesota Youth Athletic Services
Youth Sports Done Right