Sunday, Panthers will welcome Saundra, Chancellor Lee Adams
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.
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.”