CHICAGO (CBS) — He was trying to rebuild his troubled life when he became a victim of violence himself.
It was a violent afternoon in North Lawndale: A police officer shot while trying to arrest the killer of a 26-year-old man.
Friends of that man told us he had made remarkable changes in his life but still could not avoid becoming a victim.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it was the latest tragedy to touch his family.
There is a void, a presence that filled a modest boxing gym in North Lawndale is gone.
“He was an outstanding young man and his greatness was recognized instantly when he walked through the doors,” said Derek Brown, founder of Boxing Out Negativity.
Devell Hill was 26 years old. Vell, they called him, had known trouble: gun and drug charges. He was an inmate at Cook County Jail when he met Derek Brown.
“I was once a father who was once incarcerated and I told Devell my story when I saw my daughter behind this big thick glass,” Brown said. “And he instantly started crying. And to speak these things and speak the way I dealt with him it was like instant healing.”
When Hill was released, his transformation began. He became a mentor at Derek Brown’s “Boxing Out Negativity,” a program designed to keep young people in the ring and out of trouble.
Other areas of Hill’s life improved, too.
“He got himself a job, he completely financial literacy classes. He also completed parenting classes. He also completed fatherhood classes,” Brown said.
“One time I was out trying to run with this 12-year-old that was struggling a little bit with motivation and Vell was on his way to see somebody else,” said Julie Globokar, chairperson at Boxing Out Negativity. “And he diverted and ran with us the whole three miles and whole time telling this kid ‘come on man you got got this.'”
Last week, Devell Hill was shot to death not far from the gym. His killing overshadowed by the wounding of a Chicago police officer who saw the murder and was attempting to arrest the suspect.
A devastating loss. But the work of the gym goes on.
“We lost him, we will save others,” Brown said.
Police have not revealed the suspect’s motive.
Devell Hill’s brother and his nephew were also shot to death. Relatives are still paying those funeral bills.