NFL, Jay-Z Honor Hadiya Pendleton In New PSA Seeking To Curb Gun Violence

Jim Gudas
March 12, 2020 - 2:02 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Jay-Z's Team Roc and the NFL debuted a public service announcement on Wednesday that honors the life of Hadiya Pendleton, a young girl who was fatally shot in Chicago in 2013.

Narrated by her mother, the more than two-minute announcement focuses on her life and tragic death. Pendleton was gunned down as she was spending time with friends at the city's Harsh Park.

"We lost all her children, her children's children. We lost generations," her mother, Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, said in the announcement. "In junior high, she had a whole PSA: 'Don't be a part of gangs.' She stood up for what she believed in."

Pendleton was shot by Micheail Ward, who told police he shot at the group of teenagers, because he thought they were rival gang members. Ward was sentenced to 84 years in prison in 2019.

"If we give the young people something to do, if we provide them with love and care, it would lift the awareness to the young that their voices matter and their lives matter — and they should be the ones to do something about that," Cowley-Pendleton said.

Pendleton was an honors student at King College Prep. Weeks before her murder, she performed with her school band at former President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Mr. Obama brought up Pendleton's death at his State of the Union Address in 2013.

"She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here in Washington with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house," he said at the time.

The announcement, the latest from The Responsibility Program, a joint initiative from Jay-Z and the NFL, also highlights Project Orange Tree, an awareness campaign created by Pendleton's friends that "focuses on educating youth about violence and its roots," according to the project's website. The name comes from the idea that hunters wear orange clothing to signal to other hunters no to shoot them.

The PSA also urges viewers to visit the Hadiya's Promise, an organization that seeks to end gun violence.