UVA Shooting Tragedy Hits Close To Home For BYU Football Player
PROVO, Utah – The tragic shooting at the University of Virginia (UVa.) that took the lives of three Cavalier football players hits hard for a current BYU player.
Starting BYU safety Micah Harper was a best friend to one of those players. Virginia wide receiver Devin Chandler was gunned down on Sunday night in Charlottesville. Their connection dates back to being elementary-aged kids on Ewa Beach on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
There are no words to describe this tremendous loss to our UVA Football family. Lavel, Devin, D’Sean – you will all be dearly missed and we will never forget the impact you had on our team and community. pic.twitter.com/xdiq9KCU17
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) November 15, 2022
BYU player lost a best friend in the UVA shooting
As news started to spread worldwide on Monday morning of the tragic shooting that took away the lives of Chandler and two other Virginia football players, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry, BYU’s star safety sent a message to his friend.
“REST IN PEACE MY DAY 1 BRUDDA SINCE THE SANDBOX. IMA LIVE OUT OUR CHILDHOOD DREAM FOR THE BOTH OF US. I LOVE YOU DEV.”
REST IN PEACE TO MY DAY 1 BRUDDA SINCE THE SANDBOX. IMA LIVE OUT OUR CHILDHOOD DREAM FOR THE BOTH OF US. I LOVE YOU DEV. ❤️🤞🏽🕊️ pic.twitter.com/1MHlD2eEHc
— Micah Harper (@micahharper_) November 14, 2022
Micah Harper met Devin Chandler in third grade
Harper met Chandler in third grade when they were running track & field. Then they were on the same Pop Warner team for three years, and they attended middle school together as part of the St. Louis High School system.
“Since we lived on the west side and St. Louis was on the east side of the island, I carpooled with him every night, every morning to school, and went to practice with him,” said Micah Harper. “I carpooled back with him, and we spent the weekends together. I spent pretty much every day for like four or five years together with him.”
The two played football together from fourth to seventh grade before Harper moved to Arizona to continue his prep career around the eighth grade. Chandler, who was in the same 2020 recruiting class as Harper, also moved to the mainland. The 6-foot wide receiver became a three-star prospect at William Amos Hough High School in North Carolina, where he eventually signed with Wisconsin.
Chandler transferred to Virginia for the 2022 season.
Remained close during their college football careers
“We stayed in contact in college,” Harper said. “There was actually a time when he was at Wisconsin, he had hit the portal, and we talked about him going to UVa. I thought that was a good move for him because growing up, that was his dream school because that’s where all his family is from. So I thought that was a great move.”
Harper said that Chandler’s mother reached out to Micah’s father, Kenny Harper (former Hawaii Defensive Back), around 6 a.m. on Monday, sharing the tragic news.
“I called his mom, but his older brother picked up, so I talked to him for a little bit. I’ve just been trying to give them their space because you can only imagine the emotions that their family is going through right now.”
“He definitely put a smile on your face”
When Harper looks back on Dev’s life, he can’t help but smile thinking of his friend.
“He’s definitely like a joy. He definitely put a smile on your face,” said Harper. “I call him a goofy kid because he’s always doing something that’s going to make you laugh. It’s like something that you would never think of. His mind was always working differently.”
Along with laughs, the two also had some triumphs on the football field.
“We were from Ewa Beach, so we played for the Ewa Saints [Pop Warner team]. And we got into it with our coach or something like that. So like the next season, we went to a different team called the Kapolei Titans. Then we played the Ewa Saints that year and we actually beat them 14 to 7. And me and Devin both scored a touchdown to win the game. So I thought that was a cool moment just being able to leave our old team, go to another team, and then we both score a touchdown to win the game.”
Pursuing the childhood dream
The game of football served as a common thread for Harper and Chandler. BYU’s hard-hitting safety, who has racked up 49 tackles this season, plans to pay tribute to the memory of Dev.
“Oh, for sure,” Harper said when asked by KSL Sports if he’s dedicating his play to Chandler. “When we were both little kids, obviously, he’s my best friend. We always talked about playing this game and going to the next level. We always watched his older brother play, but he didn’t make it to the next level. We knew that we had to be different and make it to college. Our ultimate goal was to play professional football.”
That ultimate goal of pro football the two best friends had on the island of Oahu serves as even more fuel for Harper now moving forward.
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“His last text that he sent to me was talking the week of the Liberty game because I was trying to get him to go to the game. The last text was something like, ‘are you planning on declaring for the [NFL] draft next year?’ Or something like that. I was like, ‘that would be great in a perfect world.’ He said that was his goal, too and that we’ve been talking about this since little kids. When I saw that the other day in the DMs, I was like, ‘man, I just got to keep going for him and live out our childhood dream that we both have.'”
Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.
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