17-year-old budding Istrouma football star dies in shooting; mom calls for end to violence

'I don't want his death to be in vain' - Family pleads for answers after star high school football player killed

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Rodrick Cook, 17, was killed outside his home on Matilda Street on Tuesday, April 27.

Cook was described best by his mom as a gentle giant. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 250 pounds, he looked the part of a budding football star. His coach, Jeremy Gradney, said Cook was bound for greatness.

“On the field, he was a relentless competitor,” said Gradney. “I believe he could’ve been one of the best.”

Cook was being recruited by some big-name schools, according to his family. His goal was to play in college with aspirations of going pro. It is a chance he never got, though.

“I was woken up to gunshots that sounded extremely close,” said Chalanda Gibson, Cook’s mom. “They shot again and they shot my computer. They shot like six more times and we stayed down until the officers came.”

Rodrick and his two friends were outside and his mom was inside with her grandchild. Gibson said all they could do was lay on the ground as bullets flew through her home.

“I said, ‘I need to make sure my child is alright,’ and he said, ‘He’s not. He didn’t make it,’” Gibson added.

RELATED: 17-year-old fatally shot on Matilda Street

Rodrick died in his yard. His potential and all his hopes and dreams were shattered by a bullet.

“It’s a whole ‘nother hurt. It’s a whole ‘nother hurt,” said Gibson.

She thinks her son was killed over a “beef” on social media. She said words online have too much power now and kids need to find a way to work out their differences in a non-violent way.

“I don’t want his death to be in vain. My main thing is to save another child,” said Gibson.

While no words can ever describe the pain of losing a child, she said she is not mad. Rather, she is turning her hurt into a call for action.

“Don’t even look for a football player. It’s not about who can play ball, any child out there that needs guidance. We’ve got to, we’ve got to take them back,” she added.

Gibson is asking for anyone who wants to help to donate to a school’s athletic program or volunteer their time to help a child. The goal, she said, is for kids to understand violence is not the answer. Hopefully, every kid is allowed to realize his or her true potential.

“We’re losing too many of our kids to guns,” she said.

No arrests have been made in this shooting. If you know anything about this case, you are urged to call Crime Stoppers at 225-344-7867.

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