Friday night, Danny Ware awoke to a phone call. The voice on the other end of the line, some 800 miles away, had world-shattering news.
The former University of Georgia football star’s son, 3-year-old Danny Josiah, had been killed.
“I didn’t know if it was a dream, a nightmare, or if I had just heard it wrong,” Ware said Wednesday. “But it turns out it was totally accurate.”
Now Ware said he is battling his estranged wife to bring the boy’s body back to Georgia.
According to information released by the Houston, Texas, Police Department and published media reports, Danny Josiah was killed while riding his bicycle in that city’s Kingwood neighborhood. The driver of a white GMC Sierra pickup truck stopped on the street to talk with the child’s mother then “slowly pulled forward, unaware the victim was in the roadway on his bicycle, and struck him.”
Danny Josiah was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver was released and no charges have been filed. A police spokesman called it “an unfortunate accident.”
Wednesday morning, Ware held a press conference at the downtown Atlanta office of attorney L. Chris Stewart. The former football player — a running back at Georgia from 2003-06, before spending six years in the NFL — denounced Internet commenters and their insinuations that he’d somehow been neglectful, stressing that he was not present when his son died.
Ware, 30, said his wife and two sons moved to Houston just a few days before the incident. He and Stewart declined to discuss, specifically, why they left.
They did say, however, that Ware was still fighting to get specifics about what happened while simultaneously battling for custody of his son’s body. Ware, a native of Rockmart, said his wife wants to bury Danny Josiah in Texas, but he doesn’t want him to be laid to rest “where he knows no one.”
“All I want is for my son, Danny Josiah’s body to be brought back to Georgia,” he said, adding later that he was “just praying and have faith that a court will understand my argument.”
Stewart — who has previously represented the family of Walter Scott, the North Charleston, S.C., man shot in the back last year by a police officer, among other high-profile cases — said he is acting in conjunction with a family attorney on Ware’s behalf. The status of the case was unclear, but Stewart said he was “trying to push it as fast as possible.”
The attorney said civil litigation against the driver who struck Danny Josiah is also in the cards, though he doesn’t yet know who that driver was. A police incident report has not been released.
As of Tuesday morning, the GoFundMe account established to help with Danny Josiah’s funeral expenses — set up by other former Georgia players like Des Williams and Rennie Curran — had raised nearly $17,000. Ware described his son as “the most intelligent, active, strong, full-of-life young man a father could ever want.”
“He was awesome,” Ware said. “He knew how to love you.”
— By Tyler Estep, Atlanta Journal-Constitution