‘I wanted my son to be just like that:’ Jemison High basketball coach mourns loss of beloved player

'I’m only doing well because I know I have to be strong for others,'

Posted: Mar 14, 2021 5:25 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2021 1:00 PM

A community continues to mourn the death of 17-year-old Deu'nta Moore, better known as Poodaroo. He died Saturday morning after being shot the night before. 

Ralpheal Graves is the head coach of Jemison High School's basketball team. He said he saw a little bit of himself in Moore.

Deu'nta Moore

Graves told WAAY 31 that Moore was the heart of Jemison. So, he's having a very tough time with this loss, but he's putting on his game face so he can be the support system Moore's teammates need. 

“I’m only doing well because I know I have to be strong for others," said Graves.

Graves met Moore when he became the head basketball coach at Jemison High School one year ago. He said Moore's confidence and courage radiated off of him.

“He had a little bit of what everybody lacked. If you were a friend and you lacked confidence, he had it, and it rubbed off on you," said Graves. 

Moore even had an impact on Graves' family, he calls his son "Poodaroo."

“They were like, ‘Why’d you name your son after him?’ and I was like, ‘Because like, I wanted my son to be just like that,’” said Graves.

He said Moore offered so much, not only to his team but also to the whole world. Graves said nobody can compare.

“I think we’ll be foolish to actually try and really replace that because you’re going to be looking for something that you can’t get.”

Graves said he was excited to watch Moore grow up and become an even better man. He said that would have been the best championship win he could imagine.

Deu'nta's mother and grandmother also spoke with WAAY 31 about their loss. See that HERE.

A 20-year-old has been charged with his murder. See that HERE

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