Camden High football player who cared for frightened girl during deadly shooting is recognized by city

Paul Kurtz
December 12, 2019 - 5:13 pm
Sheriff Gilbert Wilson presents Kenney Smith with honorary coins for bravery.

Paul Kurtz/KYW Newsradio

Categories: 

CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Camden High School senior Kenny Smith was playing center during a football game against Pleasantville in November, when suddenly a staccato of gunfire rang out, sending players, coaches and throngs of spectators into a panic.

“I looked back, I saw people running. I look back on the Pleasantville side and see all white helmets just hopping fences,” he recalled. “That's when I got out of the gate safely.”

His first instinct was to run, but something else made him stop in his tracks. 

He saw a little girl, around 12 years old, sobbing by herself.

“What's going on?” he thought to himself. “I told her, ‘Get underneath the bleachers, everything’s gonna be OK,’ just made sure I was there for her.

“I just needed to be there to comfort her. ‘Cause sometimes I need someone to comfort me. Everyone needs someone to comfort them.”

The 18-year-old football player was honored Thursday for his heroic actions during the shooting, which left two injured and one child, 10-year-old Micah Tennant, dead.

“Thank you for what you did. This is for you,” said Camden County Sheriff Gilbert Wilson, who presented Smith with a citation, a gift card and some honorary pins and coins.

Wilson commended Smith for having the instincts of a seasoned police officer. 

"Everybody’s running away, (but) he's taking care of business as an officer would do,” he said.

Smith stayed with the young girl until he saw some of his teammates walking toward the locker room, gesturing that the shooting had stopped. 

He went home that night and tried to wrap his head around what happened. 

“It just shocked me,” he said of the shooting.

He didn't tell anyone about his bravery, but the girl did.

“She told her dad that I saved her life,” Smith said. “Her dad came up to my coach at the Linc, and that's when all this just built. I didn't really want to talk to nobody about it. I didn't go around saying ‘I did this for the little girl, I did that.’ That's not me.”

Related:

Word soon spread to his own father. 

“My dad said he was proud of me. I never thought I'd see that day,” Smith admitted, “but we both cried.”

In the aftermath of the deadly shooting, the Philadelphia Eagles offered up Lincoln Financial Field as the turf for the two teams to play the remaining 17 minutes of the game. Some players from both teams wore patches with the number 10 on it, for Micah, who died from his injuries shortly before the rematch.

Alvin Wyatt has been charged with murder and other offenses for the Nov. 15 shooting.

Smith remains humble, but he wishes he could take back the night of gunfire altogether, for the sake of Micah and the other two injured.

“I just go out every day and try to give my all in what I do,” he said, “whether it's in school, football or just being a good person.”