I lost my father, Craig, to gun violence on July 1, 1999, in Philadelphia. He was 43 years old — eerily, the same age I am now. Craig was visiting a friend on the Fourth of July weekend when he was shot by a 14-year-old for accidentally backing his car into a basketball pole. Despite offering to pay for the damage, my father was just at the wrong place at the wrong time and unfortunately became a statistic of Philly’s gun violence crisis.
My father was no celebrity, but when you met him, you loved him. You felt his presence when he entered a room and missed it when he left. This man put the “V” in “vivacious,” and our family was lucky to have him.
To honor and memorialize his legacy, I started a nonprofit, the Craig D. Butler Scholarship Foundation, to provide scholarships to my community. I also published my book, Laying the Foundation: Brick by Brick, as a healing tool for myself that could also lead to someone else’s survival.