Tyree Walker and Amauri Saunders stood in the front yard of their Ashburton family home passing a football back and forth.

Their older brother, Dabrae Edwards, taught them how to throw a spiral and play the game. But now Walker and Saunders, ages 10 and 7, will never be able to toss a football to him again.

Edwards, 19, was shot in the 200 block of East Street on May 19. He died two days later.

The 19-year-old is the latest victim in a devastating trend of youth violence. Since the beginning of January, 16 teenagers and a 12-year-old have died as a result of gun violence.

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Walker, Saunders and their second-oldest brother, 14-year-old Tyrin Walker, will prepare to lay their eldest brother to rest in the coming the days.

“He was a good person and I really want him back,” Tyree said.

Otis Hughes holds a childhood picture of his grandson, Dabrae Edwards.
Otis Hughes holds a childhood picture of his grandson, Dabrae Edwards. (Penelope Blackwell)

As he recalled more details about learning football from his older brother, Walker grabbed Saunders’ shoulder, pulling him closer.

The mother of the boys, Shawniece Hughes, 37, remembers talking to Edwards earlier in the day before he was shot.

“Our last conversation was about him coming to see his grandmother and grandfather more. You know, to make more time for them,” Hughes said. “I told him that. He said, ‘I know. I gotta come by more. Just let them know, I got to go work.”

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Edwards had been working at the Walmart in Glen Burnie. He had picked up more shifts in anticipation of the birth of his son, who is due Aug. 30, one day before what would have been Edwards’ 20th birthday.

“I know ’Brae will live on through his brothers and his baby that’s on the way,” Hughes said.

“His comedic humor made him the one that everybody looks out for. He was so funny,” she added.

Hughes said her late son was “very helpful” with his younger brothers and “protective.” Edwards was also a recent graduate of Frederick Douglass High School, and had aspirations to pursue music at Louisiana State University.

“He wanted to be a rapper,” Hughes chuckled. “But he had the potential to go somewhere with it. He’d go into the closet and record his music on his cellphone with one of his [earphone] pieces, and the music sounded professional. He even performed on Guilford Avenue on Easter.”

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Hughes said she wanted Edwards to get out of Baltimore, but she thinks the pending arrival of his child shifted his focus.

“I just think that he got distracted. Him and his girlfriend were so in love. And it was like he just wasn’t worried about [school]. He was worried about taking care of his household. ... So he was just going to work, going to work and paying his bills,” she said.

Now Hughes, her parents and other family members sort through “this stressful time” to make plans and funeral arrangements.

After finishing a call with the pastor who will deliver a eulogy, Edwards’ grandfather, Otis Hughes, who was more like the teen’s father and helped raise him, expressed confusion over why someone would shoot his grandson.

“He would not disrespect you. Even if he was angry with you he would not disrespect you,” Otis said as he stifled tears. “He would always try to find a solution to whatever your concerns are with him. He was not rowdy, he was gentle.”

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Shawniece agreed that her son was in fact a “gentle” and “old soul,” who only stood about 5-foot-9, with a slim frame. His family will remember Edwards as their own “little old man.”

“His death is like someone took my heart out my chest and stomped on it,” she said.


Penelope Blackwell is a Breaking News reporter with The Banner. Previously, she covered local government in Durham, NC, for The News & Observer. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Morgan State University and her master’s in journalism from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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