Sun­day, Pan­thers will wel­come Saundra, Chan­cel­lor Lee Adams

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Panthers Vs. Ravens - BY SCOTT FOWLER [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

The Carolina Pan­thers will have a cou­ple of very spe­cial guests on the field dur­ing the pregame Sun­day — Saundra and Chan­cel­lor Lee Adams.

“What a nice ges­ture by the team!” Saundra Adams said Fri­day. “We are both so ex­cited.”

Saundra Adams is the mother of Cher­ica Adams, who was mur­dered in 1999 in Char­lotte. A jury con­victed for­mer Carolina Pan­ther Rae Car­ruth of mas­ter­mind­ing the con­spir­acy to shoot and kill Cher­ica Adams, who was preg­nant with Car­ruth’s child at the time.

Chan­cel­lor Lee Adams sur­vived the shoot­ing and is now al­most 19 years old. He has cere­bral palsy and brain dam­age be­cause he was de­prived of blood and oxy­gen dur­ing the chaotic min­utes af­ter his mother was shot. He has been raised since birth by Saundra Adams, his beloved grand­mother.

The Adamses were the he­roes of my re­cent on­line se­ries and seven-part pod­cast, called “Car­ruth.”

Af­ter serv­ing nearly 19 years in prison for his role in Cher­ica Adams’ death, Car­ruth was re­leased from a North Carolina prison Mon­day and is now liv­ing in Penn­syl­va­nia.

For the past 19 years, the Pan­thers have kept far away from this story. They fired Car­ruth, their for­mer first-round draft pick, in De­cem­ber 1999 af­ter he fled North Carolina in the trunk of a Toy­ota Camry fol­low­ing the death of Cher­ica Adams. And that’s been it. The Pan­thers re­ally haven’t had any­thing to do with the Adamses in a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive way.

But now Saundra and Chan­cel­lor Lee will not only be on the field dur­ing pregame, but they will also have lower-level seats for the Bal­ti­more-Carolina con­test.

To me, this rep­re­sents a long over­due step by the Pan­thers and I ap­plaud them for it. Ku­dos to Ri­ley Fields, the team’s di­rec­tor of com­mu­nity re­la­tions, for mak­ing it hap­pen in con­junc­tion with a ded­i­cated Carolina fan named Ja­son Un­der­wood.

Un­der­wood is an orig­i­nal PSL holder. He grew in­ter­ested in the Adamses af­ter a story I wrote about the fam­ily in 2015. He and Saundra Adams have since be­come friends.

“I was de­ter­mined to get them to a game,” said Un­der­wood, who works for Duke En­ergy as a fi­nance man­ager.

Un­der­wood tried in 2017 and even bought tick­ets, but Chan­cel­lor Lee got sick and couldn’t come. This time it worked out, with Un­der­wood, his 13-year-old son and the Adamses all plan­ning to sit to­gether in the up­per level in one of the hand­i­capped sec­tions.

Un­der­wood con­tacted Fields, who de­cided to pro­vide a VIP on-field ex­pe­ri­ence for Saundra and Chan­cel­lor Lee and up­grade them to lower-level seats. The Adamses have pre­vi­ously been to a few Pan­thers games — and Chan­cel­lor Lee once per­formed on the field as part of a dance team — but they have never been rec­og­nized as of­fi­cial guests of the team quite like this.

“I just want this to be a great day for Saundra and Chan­cel­lor — some­thing that can lift them up a lit­tle,” Fields said. “They are go­ing to get an ‘up close and per­sonal’ view of the Pan­thers be­fore the game.”

Per­son­ally, I also wish that Saundra and Chan­cel­lor Lee would get to bang the “Keep Pound­ing” drum be­fore a fu­ture game, maybe in 2019. It would be hard to find a bet­ter ex­am­ple in the com­mu­nity of two peo­ple who have kept pound­ing in their own lives, per­sist­ing through al­most unimag­in­able ad­ver­sity.

But don’t get me wrong: What is go­ing to hap­pen Sun­day will be great.

“I hope,” Fields said, “we can give Saundra and Chan­cel­lor Lee a few thrills and a re­ally good af­ter­noon. They cer­tainly de­serve it.”

Pre­dic­tion time. Af­ter a 4-0 ● start pick­ing Carolina games, I stum­bled each of the past two weeks as Carolina lost to Wash­ing­ton but beat Philadel­phia on the road and I picked them to do ex­actly the op­po­site. Pan­thers fans are go­ing to hope I right the ship this week, be­cause I like Carolina at home. My pick: Carolina 23, Bal­ti­more 20.

Scott Fowler: 704-358-5140, @scot­t_­fowler

The story of the at­tack on Adams was re­cently made into a seven-part pod­cast by the Ob­server, called Car­ruth. Lis­ten on Ap­ple Pod­casts, Spo­tify, Google Play Mu­sic, and other ma­jor pod­cast apps.

JEFF SINER [email protected]­lot­teob­server.com

Saundra Adams and her grand­son, Chan­cel­lor Lee, 18, will at­tend Sun­day’s Carolina Pan­thers game against the Bal­ti­more Ravens with lower-level seats pro­vided by the team. The Pan­thers also will al­low the Adamses onto the field dur­ing the pregame. “What a nice ges­ture by the team!” Saundra Adams said Fri­day. “We are both so ex­cited.”

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