Home USA News Seahawks’ Joey Blount mourns slaying of three Virginia teammates

Seahawks’ Joey Blount mourns slaying of three Virginia teammates

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The guard is a rookie

Seahawks rookie guard Joey Blount holds up the special cleats he wore against Seattle on Nov. 27 to honor Lavelle Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry, three of Blount’s former University of Virginia teammates who were shot on campus in Charlottesville on November 13, 2022.

The Seahawks plane just landed home from Germany.

Joey Blount and all the other players, coaches and staff had just flown more than 10 hours from Seattle’s game against Tampa Bay at Munich on November 13th. The security recruit immediately did what we all do upon landing from the flight. He turned on the phone.

It blew in his hand.

“We landed … I was getting all these texts,” Blount said.

The messages on Blunt’s phone have been frantic from his teammates at the University of Virginia, where he played last season. Everyone asked the same thing.

“What happened at UVa?”

While Blount was playing for the Seahawks against the Buccaneers in Munich, some of Blount’s former Virginia teammates were in Washington, D.C., taking classes. They attended a play about Emmett Till, a black teenager killed in 1955 in Mississippi in a racist attack that in part led to the civil rights movement. Christopher Darnell Jones Jr. allegedly shot and killed Virginia football players D’Sean Perry, Devin Chandler and Lavelle Davis Jr. on the bus as the students were returning from a play on their campus in Charlottesville on the evening of Nov. 13.

Another football player, Mike Hollins, was seriously injured in the back. A woman was also injured.

Blunt learned this from a college group chat with UVa classmates from 2021. Seconds after he landed in Seattle, he learned that three of his Cavaliers teammates had died.

It was three days before Blunt’s 24th birthday.

People who just turned 24 aren’t supposed to go through what Blount went through this month.

He spent that week, the Seahawks’ bye week, “in disarray” at his family home in Atlanta.

On Wednesday, 2 1/2 weeks after the slayings of three friends he calls “special,” Blount stood by his locker at Seahawks headquarters and explained how he was trying to cope.

“Trying (to push through), just day by day, really,” he said.

“It’s not something you can really prepare for.”

When the Seahawks returned from last week’s bye, coach Pete Carroll was looking for Blount. The impressive selector with tireless drive impressed the 71-year-old coach since the training camp. That’s why Carroll selected the undrafted Blunt as one of 53 Seahawks to make the team out of the preseason ahead of Bo Melton, who was drafted among other rookies.

Carroll felt Blount wasn’t ready to practice and prepare for Seattle’s home game last weekend against the Las Vegas Raiders. So, as the team tried to reclaim first place in the NFC West, the coach excused Blount from the team.

“It was very difficult, very difficult, very emotional for him to be apart and not be able to be there,” Carroll of Blunt and his UVa friends. “We got him out of here last week so he could get there with enough time to feel like he could plug in and bring everything he could.

“He was very touched by it, deeply.”

Blount said Carroll told him, “Life is more important than football.”

“Pete called me and stood me up with love to talk about it and just understand and listen,” Blount said.

“He gave me the ability to do whatever I needed to do.”

Blunt had to say goodbye to Perry.

After Carroll forgave him, Blunt was in Miami for Perry’s viewing and funeral last weekend. He flew from Seattle to Miami on Thanksgiving night.

“I wouldn’t say it was for the sake of moving on, but for myself, to get closure,” Blount said. “Just so I can cope better – and also to say my last words to him and his family.”

Perry, a linebacker for the Cavaliers and two years younger than Blunt, was best friends with Blunt’s roommate at UVa. The roommate and Perry attended the same high school in Miami, Gulliver Prep.

“I ended up becoming very close to him through friendship and roommate,” Blount said of Perry. “We became close. As a result, I took him under my care. I share some of the best memories with him.

“He was two years younger than me and I often looked up to him for what he did in my life. Just his influence and the way he carried himself.”

Blunt flew out of Seattle on Thanksgiving night for six hours on a red-eye flight. He was there on Friday Perry’s memorial service at Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in the Cutler Bay area of ​​South Miami.

“It was on display. I saw his body. Obviously when they do his body in makeup they make him look good,” said Blount.

“I saw his father and mother at that time.

“I hugged them.”

Blunt wasn’t sure if Perry’s parents, Sean and Happy, would remember him. It seemed that he was a close acquaintance of theirs, a roommate with their son’s schoolmate.

But then Blount learned how much he meant to Perry from Perry’s father.

“What he told me stayed with me,” Blount said.

Perry’s father told him at that church in Miami, “Joey, my son spoke highly of you. He valued your friendship. The same way you looked at him, he looked back at you. It was real.”

Those words are fuel for Blunt.

“As a man, he thanked me for taking care of his son, for always being there for him,” Blount said.

“When I heard that from his father, it was worth the trip. Flying across the country made it so worth it, just to know that my love for him was reciprocated—and that he shared it with his parents.

“I had a special relationship with the three of them. But especially D’Sean, he was definitely under my wing. I would take him out to eat. My friend and I drove him and his roommate.

“Just like the little brother I ended up looking up to.”

Blunt said the entire UVa football team attended Perry’s services in Miami. He saw and grieved with the Cavaliers players, coaches, staff and administrators.

It was a college reunion that Blount never wanted and never thought would happen.

“My dad always told me, ‘Learning on the job.’ It must be life,” he said. “The cards you’re dealt, you just have to work with them. But it’s definitely a sad time. Personally, it is very difficult for me. Just my connection with those three guys, I was only removed from the team for a year. All three of them are younger brothers (to me).

“Definitely difficult. It was a difficult month.”

Perry’s funeral was held Saturday at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Miami. Blount flew to Seattle on Saturday night. It landed after midnight, at 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

A few hours later, he played at Lumen Field for hours, 18 snaps on special teams. He was involved in more than half of Seattle’s games in the Seahawks’ kicking game Losing the Las Vegas Raiders 40-34 in overtime.

“It was real — just not physically, but emotionally — hard,” Blount said.

“Every time I went out on the field, I just talked to them in my head, said a short word: ‘This is the game for you.’

“I always think about them, even when I’m tired: ‘This representative is not just for me. It’s for the other people who pushed me, who wanted to be in my shoes.”

So it’s Perry, Davis and Chandler in Blunt’s shoes.

Last week, he played in orange cleats with Virginia Cavaliers orange and the numbers of Perry (41), Davis (1) and Chandler (15) on the outside of his left shoe. “UVAStrong 1 * 15 * 41” is printed on the outside of Blunt’s right cleat.

“We’re just repeating: we’re stronger together, not apart,” he said.

“It was a very emotional game for me,” Blount said. “I was just exhausted from all the emotion and crying I did.”

Carroll said Blunt’s acquittal could not make the tragedy any clearer. But this time did the best for him.

“I know it didn’t fix anything,” Carroll said. “And I know he came back feeling better about being able to connect.”

A bigger reason

This week is the annual NFL My Cause My Cleats week. Players from all over the league wear game shoes customized to the cause they support and want to highlight.

Seahawks rookie quarterback Kobe Bryant has one of the reasons Blount is going through his business. Bryant, a Cleveland native, has shoes dedicated to the Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence. A childhood friend died from a gun.

Running back Ken Walker, another Seahawks rookie, honors another of the three UVa players killed this month. Walker and Chandler attended Arlington High School together in Tennessee before Chandler transferred for his senior year.

Blunt? He now plays for about 105 UVa youngsters every time he takes the field for the Seahawks.

He’ll play for Perry, Davis and Chandler on Sunday when he cuts kickoffs and punts and tackles again for the Seahawks against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday in Inglewood, Calif. And for every Virginia Cavalier.

“Yes, my prayers are still with them. I think about them every day,” Blount said.

“I just think in football there are many reasons that motivate you to play. Family. Friends. Goals. But for me, my goal became much bigger.

“Because these three young people dreamed of being where I am. And they could not get there. So I want to make sure that their fire and flame never goes out.”

Blount says he’ll always be grateful to Carroll and the Seahawks for what they’ve done these past two unfathomable weeks.

“Fortunately, everyone at the club is very, very supportive. I will lean on them, certainly in an emotional time,” he said.

“Just thinking about the time with them,” Blount said of Perry, Chandler and Davis. “You know how it goes…”

His voice is quiet.

A new perspective

Virginia canceled its final two games of the season after the shooting.

Since then, Cavaliers players and coaches have attended three funerals in five days. From Perry’s service in Miami, they flew to Virginia Beach for Chandler’s funeral. On Wednesday, they were in Charleston, South Carolina, where they attended service for 20-year-old Davis in his hometown. The New England Patriots and team owner Robert Kraft lent their jet take the Virginia team to the funeral.

“For the seniors and the guys that have been there a while, it’s tough,” Blount said. “The team was broken. It was broken emotionally. Broken hearted.

“It stopped football. This is the meaning of what is your meaning in life?”

This story was originally published November 30, 2022, 6:00 p.m.

Greg Bell is a Seahawks and NFL writer for The News Tribune. In January 2019, he was named the Washington State Sports Journalist of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. He began covering the NFL in 2002 as the Oakland Raiders beat writer for The Sacramento Bee. The Ohio native began covering the Seahawks in their first Super Bowl season in 2005. In the past, he graduated from West Point and served as a tactical intelligence officer in the US Army, so he might ask you to give it up and give him a 10.

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