Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Loss of Demonta Gaither

You may have seen the sad story in the news this week about the young man from Grier Heights who drowned in the pond behind Randolph Park. This is a particularly sad event for MPTLL because the young man, Demonta Gaither, was a popular player during the years he spent playing baseball in our league. Demonta played in the AL, NL, Majors (Carolina Pad) and in our Senior League. In his final season with Carolina Pad in 2007, he was selected by the Major League coaches as the recipient of the Billy Rice Award, which is given to the player whose enthusiasm and love of the game exemplify the best in Little League baseball. Demonta’s nomination for the Rice Award included the following excerpt, as written by his coach, Robert Griffin, who served as a mentor to him both during and after his time with MPTLL:
“Demonta loves the league and loves our team. He is a happy boy who likes to compete, who doesn't like to lose, but who bounces back and is eager for the next game or practice. He is interested in his teammates -- he cares about them. He is enthusiastic at all practices -- giving as much effort as he gives to games, and enjoying the competition. He pays remarkably close attention to everything going on around him. He notices the flaws in the technique of his teammates and offers encouraging suggestions to "keep your eye on the ball" or "use two hands" and stuff like that -- in a way that is positive and helpful. He notices players on the other teams, too. He may know more about the players on the other teams than anyone on our team. He's just been a wonderful part of our team for these two years. He's only a pretty good player, but the MPTLL experience has been a good one for him, and he's made the experience better for me and for his teammates.  He's already looking forward to playing at Independence Park next year. All of this comes from a boy who doesn't have a great home environment in the Grier Heights apartment where he lives.”
Demonta’s death is a tragedy. His story can be a reminder to us of the needs of so many young people in some of our nearby neighborhoods, and of the opportunities that we have to try to help them, with guidance, encouragement, friendship and love. The relationships we build with these young people are greatly important, and there is much that we can do to influence their lives in a positive way.

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