Matthew Hardeman, the last all-state player in Avondale’s storied football history, was shot to death in Atlanta two weeks ago. Members of the Avondale Alumni Association and his former head coach want to make sure he is not forgotten.
Hardeman, 19, was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in the front yard of his home in southwest Atlanta on Oct. 15. No suspects have been named. Family members said Hardeman had defended his sister in a dispute days before the murder and that revenge was a logical motive.
“He was walking down the street and a car pulled up with four guys who surrounded him and shot him to death,” said Stacy Burnette, a friend and mentor and member of the alumni association. “He never used drugs. You couldn’t get him to drink or smoke. He was a good kid in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
A defensive lineman, Hardeman was a first-team all-state player for Avondale in 2009, which was Avondale’s first winning season in 20 years. The school, which produced state-contending teams from the 1950s through the 1980s, closed this year.
Hardeman played at Fullerton College in California but returned home sick, Burnette said. Hardeman planned to walk on at Georgia State next year.
“Matthew touched a lot of people in a special way, and he will truly be missed by all of us,” said M.L. King coach Mike Carson, Hardeman’s coach at Avondale in 2009. “He was loved by everyone in the Avondale community. I don’t think that I have ever coached a player with more passion to play the game of football than Matthew Hardeman.”
The alumni association is raising money to help the family with funeral expenses. Anyone wanting to contribute may contact Burnette at 40-536-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The Avondale Blue Devil nation steps up when something happens to one of our own,” Burnette said. “It’s important for people to know we had a wonderful person in our midst.”
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