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Hundreds gather to mourn slain Grayson teen

Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul R. Sampleton, Sr., wearing a white shirt, is comforted by mourners attending a memorial service for Sampleton's 14-year old son Paul R. Sampleton, Jr., a Grayson High School freshman shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul R. Sampleton, Sr., wearing a white shirt, is comforted by mourners attending a memorial service for Sampleton's 14-year old son Paul R. Sampleton, Jr., a Grayson High School freshman shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mourners attend a memorial service held for 14-year old Paul R. Sampleton, Jr., a Grayson High School freshman shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul R. Sampleton, Sr., center, attends a memorial service for his 14-year old son Paul R. Sampleton, Jr., a Grayson High School freshman who was shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Stephanie Stone, right, attends a memorial service for her 14-year old son Paul R. Sampleton, Jr., a Grayson High School freshman shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Mourners enter a memorial service for 14-year old Paul R. Sampleton, Jr., a Grayson High School freshman shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn Paul Sampleton Sr., wearing a white shirt, shares his grief with a mourner during a memorial service for Sampleton's 14-year old son, Paul R. Sampleton Jr., a Grayson High School freshman shot during an apparent robbery at the home of his mother on December 19th. The memorial service was held on Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Just two days after Christmas, friends and family gathered to remember 14-year-old Paul Sampleton Jr.

The roughly 200 people that filled the chapel of Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville were doubled in the nearby atrium and spilled out into a frigid Thursday night during the memorial service for the Grayson High School freshman, who was shot and killed last week during a robbery at his mother's home.

Sampleton's parents -- Paul Sr. and Stephanie Stone -- wore shirts touting their athletic young son as "God's D-I running back," an ode to his aspirations to play college football at the highest level.

Appropriately, those who spoke at the memorial service focused heavily on the gridiron.

"Paul believed in being the best," Mike Macon, who coached Sampleton in youth football at Central DeKalb, said. "Paul just blessed us so much, that he always had that smile. Even when he entered the field and he'd say, 'What's up coach?' He always had that smile on his face. That smile is what I hold on to."

Daniel Mahoney coached the teen as recently as last year.

"Paul was a rambunctious young man just like any 14-year-old kid would be," he said, "but oh boy did he have a spirit. Did he have a spirit. He had a very mature spirit, a mature mind for a 14-year-old boy."

Sampleton was found shot to death inside his mother's Haynescrest Drive townhome on the afternoon of Dec. 19, the last day of school. Discovered by his father at about 2:40 p.m., Sampleton's body was restrained and lying on the kitchen floor.

Gwinnett County police detectives believe the teen was a victim of a robbery, but have not released specifics about the believed nature of that crime. Spokesman Cpl. Jake Smith said Thursday that no new details were available regarding the case.

"There is nothing new that we can share at this point, but the case is under active investigation," Smith said. "No arrests have been made."

On social media, friends and classmates of Sampleton have speculated that he may have been killed over sneakers -- the teen was a member of an online community called Addicted to All Things Fresh, where those interested often arrange meetings to swap sneakers, music and other items.

Police have said they are looking into that possibility.

A program for Thursday night's service included an open letter from Sampleton's parents to their deceased son.

"To realize your body is gone and your spirit remains, gives us comfort to know your death will not be in vain," it said, in part. "Paul, we will always love you and miss you; your name will always be remembered, your heart will always be remembered."

Dr. Kary Harris, senior pastor of Union Baptist Church in Buford, delivered a passionate message to the hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of the boy whose killer has not yet been brought to justice.

"We want to give God some praise for this life," he said. "It's not how long you live, but it's how you live. And it's that dash in the middle. He's done so much in his life and touched so many."

Funeral services are scheduled for Friday afternoon in Macon.

Comments

rco1847 1 year, 3 months ago

First sentence, second paragraph: "The roughly 200 people that filled the chapel " Were the people rough or was it the seats in the chapel? Was it a "rough" bunch of people? Why not "estimated", "about", "approximately", "more than", but not roughly. Unless you mean the opposite of smoothly.

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TOWG 1 year, 3 months ago

Really? Is this all you got from the article? This is a tragedy on so many levels and you think it's appropriate to put on the grammar nazi hat. Get a life.

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Dubbin 1 year, 3 months ago

Until the black community realizes that their own kids are murdering each other over stuff like sneakers or dope transactions and starts to emphasize education, two parent households, real work ethics and something other than playing football as a life goal we'll just see more of this nonsense. Lest I be called a racist I'd like to point out that the white and Latino communities need to realize the same damn thing.

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Coolray 1 year, 3 months ago

Then why did you feel the need to specify the black community if your comments apply to every community? Moreover, how do you know this young man was killed because of sneakers, football or his "life goals"?

Based on your comments I don't think you're a racist but an idiot might be a more appropriate designation.

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 3 months ago

oooh careful...modern society doesn't like truths like this aired..

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Coolray 1 year, 3 months ago

Why would anyone come on a blog and go after a dead teenager and his parents less than 10 days after he was a crime victim and before the police completed the investigation? You're sick and a part of what's wrong with America! Let's just demonize the victim of the day: blacks, hispanics, gays, people who simply don't agree with us. For an example: see congress and the minority who've elected them: dentaldawg83 and dubbin.

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Dubbin 1 year, 3 months ago

Kids killing each other execution style and I am the problem? When our kids culturally think there's no problem killing each other just call somebody a racist (or a Republican) then pretend there's no culpability with the culture of violence that these kids see/hear every day in videos, movies, rap songs, etc? Sorry Coolray but do you think our kids got the idea that killing each other is OK from Congress or do you think maybe, just maybe, it might be from the rappers, thugs and drug lords that've set up shop in ATL? It is always easier to blame somebody else than look in the mirror isn't it?

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