Dwane Simmons, a Washburn University defensive end, was killed in a shooting in Kansas on April 28. New York Giants player Corey Ballentine was also wounded in the attack. WIBW reports that the shooting occurred in the early hours of Sunday. The station says that officers responded to 1400 block of 13th street in Topeka at around 12:45 a.m. When police arrived at the scene, first responders found Simmons dead in the street in front of a home. He was 23 years old.
Dwane Simmons was a junior who was studying mass communication at Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. A press release from the school read in part, “Both Dwane and Corey have been great examples and representatives of the football team and of Washburn University in general. This was a terrible way to end a day which should have been a day of celebration and a day to look forward to Dwane’s upcoming year at Washburn and the beginning of Corey’s professional career.”
1. Simmons’ Death Was Confirmed in a Heartbreaking Facebook Post From His Mother
Simmons’ death was confirmed in a heartbreaking Facebook post from his mother, Yasmine, who wrote, “Today I got news that no parent wants to hear. I’m posting this for all friends and family who love Dwane that I can’t possibly reach at this time. Dwane was a great kid, and I will miss my son dearly. Thank you God for allowing me to hug my son Tuesday, and tell him how much I love him and how proud I am to be his Yama. Please keep my entire family in your prayers. This hurts like no other.”
On his Twitter bio, Simmons wrote, “Washburn University Student Athlete – Adversity defines true character – Doubters are my motivators.” His final tweet was a retweet from the New York Giants’ official account congratulating Ballentine on being drafted. On April 2, Simmons retweeted a quote from LAPD Chief Michael Moore regarding the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle. The quote read, “I saw the name Nipsey Hussle, and I looked at that again, and I looked at it again, and it was like I could not believe it… This is a voice that was trying to help.”
2. Simmons’ Father Congratulated Corey Ballentine’s Drafting Calling Him ‘My Son’s Best Friend’
In a Facebook post, hours before his son died, Simmons appeared with his father, Navarro, in a video congratulating Corey Ballentine’s drafting. Navarro Simmons wrote in the post, “Congrats to my sons corner-mate, roommate, and best friend at Washburn University, Corey Ballentine on being drafted by the New York Giants! Good football player, but a even better person. #preparationmeetsopportunity.”
3. Simmons Played 22 Games During His Washburn University Career
According to Dwane Simmons’ official Washburn profile, he played 22 games, starting 17, during his career with the school. That’s despite him sitting out the entire 2016 season and suffering a season-ending injury after two games in 2017. Simmons began with the school in 2015. During the 2018 season, Simmons had a career-high six tackles in a single game against Central Oklahoma.
That bio adds that Simmons attended Lee’s Summit West High School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. In a statement following the news of Simmons’ tragic death, Washburn coach Craig Schurig said, “Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn. Dwane’s infectious smile and love for football and his teammates was truly inspirational. Our prayers of healing go out to his family, his parents Navarro and Yasmine Simmons and Chaquilla Williams.”
4. Simmons Overcame Torn ACL Injuries in Both of His Knees
The reason for Simmons’ lack of appearances between 2016 and 2018 was due to different ACL injuries. Simmons told the Topeka Courier-Journal in October 2018 that during his recovery from his first ACL injury, to his left knee, the recovery was slow. Simmons said that he was to blame for how long it took for his knee to recover saying, “I honestly didn’t take it as serious as I probably should have, so my knee wasn’t as strong as it should have been or was before and I had to take a redshirt because of it.”
In the second game of his return season, in 2017, Simmons suffered a second torn ACL in his right knee. Simmons said that although initially, he considered never playing again, eventually he began to concentrate on his recovery. He told the World-Journal, “I took my rehab 10 times more serious. I was doing rehab in the training room maybe two to three times a day and I recovered faster from my second ACL; I got cleared to run after like five months. I really appreciate the trainers helping me and holding me accountable this time so I could get back on the field.”
5. Corey Ballentine Is the Highest Draft Pick in Washburn University History
Sixth-round draft-pick, Ballentine, is expected to make a full recovery. Balentine went as 180th overall pick on April 26. He was the highest pick in the history of Washburn University’s Ichabods. In an interview on the Giants website, Balentine said, “I’m glad to be a part of this franchise. I’ve been waiting on this opportunity for a lifetime, really. I’m glad to be a part of the conversation. I’m definitely ready to start learning and be around the guys and be around you guys.”
A statement from the Giants, which was posted on the NFL’s official website, read, “We are aware of the tragic situation and continue to gather information. We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”