Lamont Adams (Dec. 10, 1987 - Sept. 23, 2004)
From the very beginning, the Cradle to Grave program has used the life and death of one young man, Lamont Adams, to illustrate the profound ways that urban violence in general, and gun violence in particular, can devastate individuals, families and communities. At first blush, Lamont might seem an unlikely central figure. He was neither valedictorian nor villain. He was just a kid from the often unkind streets of North Philadelphia, doing his best to negotiate the challenging terrain that lies somewhere between adolescence and adulthood. Between morality and mischief. Simply put, he was everyone’s son, exceptional only for the wattage of his personality.
A junior at Strawberry Mansion High School, Lamont was renowned for his wit. With a sense of humor well beyond his years, he would often stand on the steps in front of his home, holding comedic court for the tight-knit group of kids with whom he had grown up. Such a common sight was this that those who knew him often called him The Prince of 27th Street, referencing both his charm and the street on which he lived.
On a Thursday night in late September 2004, just twenty-four hours after penning a note that would foretell his fate, Lamont was shot more than a dozen times near the home he shared with his grandmother, Jenny Clark. Within minutes, he was being transported to Temple University Hospital, where he would die a short time later. He was just 16 years old.
In the ensuing years, scores of teenagers would lose their lives under similar circumstances. In a city like Philadelphia, where homicide represents the leading cause of death for young African American men – and where more than 10,000 people have been shot in just the time since his death – it might be understandable if the tears shed for Lamont were simply lost in a tsunami of grief. Mrs. Clark, however, refused to allow his story to be swept away. She wanted something good to come from this senseless tragedy.
It is with her permission that we are able to tell Lamont’s story – his entire story – from the cradle to the grave. Thanks to her courage and conviction, more than 4,000 young people have been allowed to step into Lamont’s shoes. And, by extension, they have been allowed to place their loved ones in hers. It is our hope that everyone who participates in the Cradle to Grave program leaves with a more realistic view of the devastation that violence wreaks.
We humbly thank Mrs. Clark and the rest of Lamont’s family for making these efforts possible.