11.12.2020

Read this tonight and thought I'd share... such a sweet young man and a strong Grandmother... I don't remember hearing about this when it happened, but I was pretty young and pretty busy and probably not paying attention to the news much?  

You can read the entire story at the source - this is not the whole article, photos or video.  But enough to the tell the story while you sip a cup of coffee.

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Source:  https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article247080887.html

Rae Carruth wanted to kill his unborn son. Now the ‘miracle boy’ turns 21.

On Nov. 16, 1999, Chancellor Lee Adams was born in Charlotte, shortly after a hitman shot his mother Cherica Adams four times in a drive-by ambush.

His father, former Carolina Panther first-round draft pick Rae Carruth, would be convicted of masterminding the attempted murder of his own son by hiring the hitman who shot his pregnant girlfriend.

Now it is November 2020.

And the boy they couldn’t kill has become a young man who will celebrate his 21st birthday Monday.

“The 21st birthday is significant in any young man’s life, because that’s the transition from a boy to manhood,” said Saundra Adams, who has raised her grandson, Chancellor Lee, in Charlotte since his birth. “And I’m especially grateful. Because if I had listened to the prognosis of those doctors early on, we never would have been here today.”

For years during our interviews, Saundra Adams has referred to Chancellor Lee as her “miracle boy.” But as the three of us sat together at a north Charlotte park recently, she stopped herself from using the phrase again.

Said Adams: “Now he’s my miracle young man. … And we are celebrating what we have ahead of us, instead of looking back on what we lost.” 

Cherica Adams saved her son’s life on the night of his birth 21 years ago. Shot four times through her car window by hitman Van Brett Watkins in one of the most notorious crimes in North Carolina history, moaning in pain, Adams still managed to call 911 and direct rescuers to exactly where she was.

Adams died four weeks later in the hospital, unable to recover from her grievous wounds. Carruth panicked and fled inside the trunk of a friend’s Toyota Camry soon afterward, eventually being caught by the FBI in Tennessee.

But Chancellor Lee lived thanks to that haunting, 12-minute emergency call his mother made — a call that both saved her son and implicated his father.

Chancellor Lee has struggled with cerebral palsy and permanent brain damage owing to the traumatic circumstances of his birth. He was deprived of oxygen and blood during the chaotic minutes after his mother was shot just after midnight on Rea Road in Charlotte, not long after she and Carruth had gone to see the movie “The Bone Collector” together.

While some 21-year-olds are working or entering the latter stages of college, Chancellor Lee continues to work on buttoning his shirt without help. He usually speaks one or two words at a time — “Yeah” and “Thank you” are among the most common.

But the walker he once used regularly now has been almost retired. After years of physical therapy, he now walks with only his grandmother’s hand for support. And his beaming smile is a constant — what Saundra calls her grandson’s “Smile Ministry.” Over the past few months, when Chancellor Lee had to wear a COVID-mandated mask, people missed that smile so much that Saundra bought her grandson a clear mask to wear so the “Smile Ministry” could start ministering again.

Is he excited about his upcoming birthday?

“Yeah!” Chancellor Lee said.

 

Chancellor-as-a-baby
This photo of Chancellor Lee Adams shortly after he was born 10 weeks prematurely on Nov. 16, 1999, was introduced at Rae Carruth’s trial in 2000. Jeff Siner jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Forgiving Carruth

The point of shooting Cherica Adams, prosecutors would later argue to the jury, was for Watkins to kill Chancellor Lee while he was still in the womb so that Carruth wouldn’t have to pay years of child support. The speedy wide receiver from Sacramento, Calif., already had another son by a different woman — his high school girlfriend — that he was supporting, and injury problems were also jeopardizing his long-term NFL prospects.

Chancellor Lee has been raised by his beloved “G-Mom” — Saundra Adams, Cherica’s mother and his grandmother — for his entire life. In their home, they refer to Cherica as “Mommy Angel.”

Cherica Adams was 24 when she died, barely three years older than her son is now. If she had survived the shooting, she would be 45 today. Saundra Adams said she often tries to imagine what her daughter would look like now, a melancholy process made easier by the fact that Cherica has a half-sister who is similar in age.

But the Adams/Carruth story isn’t encased in amber. Life goes on. Rae Carruth was released from a North Carolina prison in October 2018 after serving nearly 19 years for conspiring to murder Adams and other charges related to the shooting.001_CHANCELLORLEE_SAUNDRA.jpg

Carruth, who was the Panthers’ first-round draft pick out of Colorado in 1997, moved to Pennsylvania after his release. I found his address and tracked him down two years ago, ringing his doorbell, sitting with him at his spotless kitchen table and, over the next several weeks, eventually conducting the only interview he has given since he became a free man.

The father and the son haven’t seen each other in the past 20 years, except through photos — and everyone who sees photos of Rae and Chancellor Lee are struck by their uncanny resemblance to each other.chancellor and rae .jpg

Said Adams this week: “I would expect now that it’s been two years since he’s been free that he’s moved on with his life. And we’ve moved on. ... We have so much ahead of us to be grateful for.”

Watkins, the hitman, is the only one of the four convicted co-conspirators who remains in prison for the crimes of 1999. He isn’t scheduled to be released until 2041.

But Carruth was released in 2018 because of the jury’s mixed-message verdict in 2001 after his nationally televised trial: He was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder but acquitted of first-degree murder. In prison, he stayed busy as a prison barber.

Adams came to terms with that sentence, even though it was shorter than she would have liked. She still firmly believes Carruth orchestrated the murder of Cherica Adams, her only biological child.005_CHANCELLORLEE_SAUNDRA.JPG 

Carruth has never admitted to ordering the hit; his defense team advanced a theory that Watkins murdered Adams as retribution for a drug deal gone sour. In a letter he sent to me once, Carruth, an English major at the University of Colorado, wrote: “In every great piece of literature, there’s always a protagonist and an antagonist. ... The latter applies to me — and that’s something that will never change. ... There’s absolutely nothing that I could ever say or do to right my wrongs. ... To no longer be ‘the bad guy.’ ”

Watkins insisted in court, however, and in a later three-hour jailhouse interview we did in 2018, as well as numerous letters, that Carruth hired him for the murder. He still is furious with Carruth. “I want him dead,” Watkins told me.

Saundra Adams does not.

“He’s paid his debt to society,” Adams said of Carruth, who at one point during his Panther career made about $40,000 per game. “The biggest price was when he first went to prison. It was the death of the (NFL) lifestyle that he knew.”

“The journey has been significant,” Saundra Adams said. “Because you live life going forward, but you understand it going backward. ... So I’m grateful. He is my miracle.”


Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/scott-fowler/article247080887.html#storylink=cpy

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Thanks for sharing morning coffee with me!