Community mentor murdered

January 8, 2009 3:30:36 PM PST
Wilmington's first murder victim of 2009 is a man who was known as a mentor in his community. Derrick Hoey was shot and killed last Sunday.

He used to train boxers how to fight in the ring. It's a bitter irony, because the 41-year-old was a local youth mentor known for stopping fights outside the ring.

His friend, Clarence "Sonny Bono" Taylor, says Hoey was trying to stop a man from physcially assaulting a woman when he was murdered.

"It surprised me that it happened that way, because I know Rick, everybody liked him," Taylor said. "It's like 'No, he's too nice of a person.'"

Taylor clings to a WBC USNBC Super Welterweight Championship belt he won in 2007 with Hoey in his corner.

He also clings to memories of a friend who himself was once a self-admitted troublemaker who learned from his mistakes and tried to turn others around.

On a summer day, Hoey was often on the basketball court. Kids may have thought he was just interested in a game of pick-up, but his Taylor says his friend's real intent was to keep those kids out of trouble.

"He worked with half the kids in the community," Taylor said.

Taylor says he will dedicate all future fights to his former trainer's memory.

In the meantime, other community leaders are dedicating themselves to ending gun violence.

City Councilman Mike Brown is calling on lawmakers to work together, and parents to become more accountable.

"You've got to have tough love," Brown said. "In order to save our children, I'd rather see them incarcerated than standing over them singing "Amazing Grace." So, It's going to take a holistic approach."

A record-breaking 26 homicides were committed in Wilmington last year. That compares to 14 the year before.

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