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Volunteer football coaches are digging deep to keep youth safe as violence plagues the community

Posted at 6:45 AM, Jul 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-17 06:47:50-04

The volunteer coaches for the West Griffin pee-wee football league in Akron take their responsibilities very seriously. 

"These kids deserve a chance, they deserve an opportunity, you can't let that madness contradict or stop the future, of these young men," said assistant coach Johnathan Watson. 

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The madness Watson is talking about is the violence that's been plaguing Akron since the beginning of July. Six people have been killed and the most recent victim is 15-year-old Ty-ron Phelps. Two other kids were also shot Sunday night and one of them is Watson's nephew.

"I spoke to my brother earlier, he made it out of surgery and in stable condition," said Watson. 

Akron's leaders came together Monday to speak out against the violence and the brazenness of the attackers and to assure the community that's this isn't just a job for the police. 

"If you are a parent, and your son has on his Facebook page a picture of him holding a firearm or if that 13-year-old is throwing up gang signs, those are indicators that you are going to be in trouble, that that kid is going to be in trouble and we need to start addressing those issues," Akron Police Chief Ken Ball said. 

Watson says the violence makes him want to work harder to save these kids from enduring the same pain. 

"The streets lead to jail or death and every kid out here has the opportunity to be the next big thing in the NFL, and for me to actually be part of that its the best feeling in the world," he said.