TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Washburn University football player Corey Ballentine posted on Twitter Monday afternoon for the first time following a shooting that left him injured and his roommate and fellow Washburn player Dwane Simmons dead.
“God gives his toughest battles to his strongest soldiers. I love you forever,” the recent New York Giants draft pick said in his tweet. “Thank you for being a true friend who uplifted me when I was in the wrong and accepted my flaws. Thank you for being a brother to me. Thank you for letting me experience your life.”
Ballentine, a senior cornerback and return man for Washburn and a Topeka native, was picked Saturday in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Giants.
Simmons graduated from Lee’s Summit West in 2014 and went on to play football at Washburn. He was heading into his final season and last semester in the fall.
FOX4 spoke to Simmons parents’ on Sunday who said the two men were walking home from a party when some men rolled up and asked if they had some smokes or something else for sale. Simmons and Ballentine said no and the guys drove off.
They then came back around and opened fire, killing Simmons.
“Dwane is one of the most energetic and well-liked players I have ever coached at Washburn,” head football coach Craig Schurig said. “Dwane’s infectious smile and love for football and his teammates was truly inspirational. Our prayers of healing go out to his family, his parents Navarro and Yasmine Simmons and Chaquilla Williams.”
The Giants released a statement Sunday, saying they are aware of the tragic situation and are continuing to gather information.
“We have spoken to Corey, and he is recovering in the hospital. Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community,” the team said.
Simmons’ mom Chaquilla Everett said he was well loved at Washburn.
“If anybody hears anything I believe somebody’s going to say something so we’re just hoping they find the person that did it,” Everett said.
Topeka police is asking anyone with information to call them at 785-368-9400 or Shawnee County Crime Stoppers at 785-234-0007.