Virginia football players killed in shooting awarded posthumous degrees

Slain football players Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry were all students in UVA's College of Arts & Sciences

The University of Virginia approved the decision to award the three football players killed in a shooting last month with posthumous degrees.

Lavel Davis Jr., Devin Chandler and D'Sean Perry were all students in the university's College of Arts & Sciences. Associate Dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs Rachel Most, who served as dean for all three students in the College, initiated the request, according to UVA.

Davis, a junior from Ridgeville, S.C., was working toward a degree in African American and African studies. Chandler, a sophomore from Huntersville, N.C., majored in American studies. Perry, a senior from Miami, was a double-major in studio art and African American and African studies.

The university said each student's degree was printed and delivered to Director of Athletics Carla Williams, who attended all three hometown funerals along with UVA President Jim Ryan, and other university and athletics faculty and staff.

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"It was a great honor to be a part of presenting these diplomas to the families of Devin, Lavel and D’Sean," Williams said in a UVA news release. 

Davis, Chandler and Perry were killed on Nov. 13 after former UVA football player Christopher Jones Jr. allegedly opened fire on a charter bus that had just returned to campus from a field trip to Washington, D.C. 

Jones was reportedly not on the team at the same time as the victims.

Two other students, Mike Hollins and Marlee Morgan, were injured in the shooting, but have since been released from the hospital, according to the university.

Hollins is one of seven football players anticipated to complete the requirements for their undergraduate degrees this month. The football team reportedly celebrated the players' achievements last week.

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A commemorative card and light up bracelet rest on a seat before a memorial service for University of Virginia football players Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler at John Paul Jones Arena at the school in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022.

A commemorative card and light up bracelet rest on a seat before a memorial service for University of Virginia football players Lavel Davis Jr., D'Sean Perry and Devin Chandler at John Paul Jones Arena at the school in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, Pool)

On Nov. 19, over 9,000 people attended an emotional memorial service held by the university. At the vigil, head football coach Tony Elliott referred to the three slain players as "lights" who will guide the way for their teammates.

The university also hosted its 21st annual Lighting on the Lawn ceremony Thursday, Dec. 1, where students had another opportunity to honor to lives of Davis, Chandler and Perry. Typically, a holiday poem is read at the event, but instead four people, including Elliot, read a poem honoring the young men.

"Let us remember them all in the light that we share, and fuel any dim ember into an energetic glare," Elliot said while on stage, according to the university. "This semester has given us hard realities to face. But we face them together and we do so with grace."

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Associate Dean of Admission Julie Caruccio was another one of the four readers on stage. She also serves at UVA's mounted Cavalier and rides her horse, Sabre, into Scott Stadium before every home football game.

"Three stars glow bright, above our heads tonight. Devin, Lavel and D’Sean, providing our light," Caruccio read.

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Large illuminated numbers representing Davis’, Chandler’s and Perry’s respective jerseys – 1, 15, and 41 – were the only lights on during the performances.