20-year-old football hopeful dies in shooting - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

20-year-old football hopeful dies in shooting

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Lydell Hartford with college coach Monte Coleman Lydell Hartford with college coach Monte Coleman

It's not easy for Annie Jackson to look at pictures of her son Lydell.

"His dream was to play professional football," she said.

From bitty ball at Waggaman Park to a freshman season in 2012 with the Golden Lions at the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, Lydell Hartford took his future seriously.

"He was always mentoring people," his mother said.

His life ended suddenly on a Monday night. "I was about to go to bed and I got a phone call and my niece told me my son had been shot," Jackson said, in tears.

Jackson, a reserve officer in the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Department and a welder, was at a union conference in Las Vegas Monday night. "He had just dropped me off at the airport at 3:30 that morning," she recalled. "He said I love you mama, and I said I love you too baby."

She had barely unpacked when her life exploded.

Jefferson Parish deputies say Lydell was sitting in a car in his driveway in Waggaman with two teens. Somehow a 16-year-old child got his hands on Jackson's gun. "The witness said he told the kids don't play with that," she told us. "Put that down before someone gets hurt."

The worst fears of the football standout were realized. He was shot through the car seat. Lydell's death hit his football family at Arkansas Pine Bluff, hard.

"The young man always had a lot of enthusiasm," said head coach Monte Coleman. "He always had a smile on his face."

His mother says they spent a lot of time together. "We used to play basketball together, we'd run together, we'd go exercise together," she said.

In an instant, she lost her best friend. "I was never lonely because he was always there," she told us.

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