The Singleton Complex: Life after death for son of Emanuel AME shooting victim
It was a day two and a half years in the making. A baseball complex at Charleston Southern University named in honor of Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. She along with with others died in the Mother Emanuel shooting in June of 2015.
Sharonda’s oldest son, Chris Singleton played baseball at CSU for three years, and he is as strong as the building named in honor of his mother.
Chris has found peace, and a love like he’s never known touched by something greater.
It's a new day and there is new life, with his three-month-old baby, Chris Jr..
"We are all strong. It's up to us to use it and unlock it. We all possess strength, but we have to believe it,” said Chris from this Lowcountry home.
There are subtle reminders of that day around his house. His mother’s initials are scribbled on his baseball glove, just a fingertip away.
"I’ve had to grow up fast. Anyone in my position would do the same thing. It’s tough but you have to be tough. I have no other choice,” said Chris.
Love your neighbor. It is another choice and its sewn into every ounce of his fiber. His new clothing line is also a way to live.
" I want people to wear it, take a picture with someone that looks different from them. Maybe it will spark a conversation of some sort," said Chris.
That conversation has led to a series of talks around the country.
"Every talk I say stand up, give someone a hug and tell them you love them. The person that murdered my mom, he didn’t know my mom at all. If someone looks like me, if someone of color would have been able to stand up and give him a hug and tell them they love him, maybe he doesn’t do it.” said Chris.
Speaking to strangers at the University of Texas is one thing, but speaking to children in the very place his mother lost her life is another.
"Kids are brutally honest, they don’t have a filter. They ask you the worst questions ever and you have to answer. They asked, "were you sad ?". I said I was very sad when it happened. They asked, "How you stay strong?" And I tell them I believe. I believe my Mom is still with me and God is helping me stay strong.
High above home plate is where Chris found the strength to stand and deliver. It was a defining moment in the hours after the shooting.
"Love is always stronger than hate. If we just love the way my mom would, the hate won't be anywhere close to what love is."
His words are now a welcome sign at the new Singleton Baseball Complex. It borders nine palm trees honoring the Emanuel 9. All framed by a passage from 1st Corinthians. Reminding us all, there is nothing greater than love.
"I have a personal relationship with the Lord now, before I had a relationship, but I treated God like Santa Clause meaning if I was a good boy I thought he would bless me with gifts,” said Chris.
His gift for the game of baseball is much like life, a constant work in progress.
When Chris leaves this month for Arizona and spring training with the Cubs, he knows there will always be a place for him at CSU and the complex named in honor of this mother.
Chris has also taken on the challenge of reading the entire Bible this year. The Bible is his mothers. Passages are highlighted, and he says it’s like reliving her spiritual journey.
Chris’ father passed away February 6th, 2017. As for his younger brother and sister, they have moved in with Chris this summer. Both wanted to graduate from Goose Creek High School where their mother taught.