OXFORD, Michigan – A special delivery arrived at Oxford High School Thursday morning, where former Detroit Lions Vice President of Communications Bill Kennest met Oxford Athletic Director Tony Demer inside his office to deliver a brown box as a gift from the team.
Inside, the official game ball from the Lions’ first emotional win of the 2021 season, which Detroit coach Dan Campbell promised would go “to the entire Oxford community”.
“Anytime people follow through on their commitment, it shows authenticity. It shows they are real,” DeMare said after receiving the ball. “It just increases your respect for these individuals.”
The Lions dedicated their first win of the 2021 season, over the Minnesota Vikings on December 5, to the community of Oxford, Michigan, after a shooting at Oxford High School on November 30 that killed four teenagers and injured several others. The Lions paid for the game ball to be drawn in commemorative fashion with the final score, date and location before it was shipped to Keenist, a long-time resident of Oxford.
“11/30 has a different meaning in Oxford now,” Kinist said. “It’s not time to go to bed or get ready for lunch. These numbers will never be forgotten in honor of all involved.” “Football will remain forever as another symbol of that.”
The game ball will begin to be displayed in high school, where students can celebrate it first. The ball will then be shared with many organizations in the community, such as first responders, fire stations, police stations, Oakland County Mayors, banks and restaurants.
DeMare plans to put the ball in a display box before passing it on to others who can keep it for up to a week.
“Just think of it, it’s football in a cause, but it symbolizes the unity of the people of Oxford,” Demari said.
The Lions caught wide receiver Amon-Ra St. He called the win his most memorable match, not only because it was his first touchdown of his career, but because the team rallied after a shot. Members of the lions honored the victims with T-shirts, hats, and helmet insignia. They also held a minute’s silence before the match started.
“I hope that represents for them to never quit and this fight because I feel like with the shooting that went down, I feel like a lot of the students could become hopeless or lose motivation,” Saint Brown told ESPN. “For us, that game would literally describe what they were going through. We were. [0-10-1] And I found a way to win. A lot of people thought we were going to go winless all season, so we figured out a way to win in the end, and for me, that was a message for them to never quit.
“It’s always hope, even in the worst of times,” he added. “There’s always something to look forward to. You just have to keep pushing, keep working, so I think it’s been great how it all went with coach Campbell giving them that ball. I hope it gives them the motivation to move forward.”