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Youth football coach, mentor killed in I-65 shooting

GREENWOOD, Ind. (WISH) — Richard Hamilton was the coach of the Indy Steelers, a youth football team, for over a decade.

The Johnson County coroner says the 43-year-old was shot and killed on I-65 on Wednesday night.

Tarkington Park is where Hamilton, known as “Coach Nell,” became a pillar of the community.

Anthoney Hampton, a childhood friend of Hamilton, told I-Team 8, “Rain, sleet, snow, he’s going to be here. The kids and the parents knew that Coach Nell was going to be in Tarkington. That’s what made him great.”

Preliminary evidence shows the van Hamilton was riding in was targeted by someone in a silver passenger car, Indiana State Police says. Police are asking for video from motorists in the area around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday so investigators can track down whoever did this.

“I would hope that everyone starts to think about their behavior with these guns,” Hampton said.

Damon Lee, Hamilton’s cousin, says did what he did for the community because someone did it for him when Coach Nell was a kid. “If you just want a chance and somebody to believe in you and somebody to help you to where you need to be, come talk to Coach Nell. He was the heart and soul of the community.”

Over the course of a decade and a half, Hamilton reached a lot of kids. “I would say over a 1,000, easy,” Lee said.

The person coaching by Hamilton’s side during those years was Darryl Smith Sr., who first coached with Hamilton because the pair wanted to coach their own kids’ football team.

“More and more every year we became like a family. More and more we understood that, the importance of our role, the importance of understanding that we’ve got to guide these young me and give them the right tools to succeed,” Smith said.

A lot of those responsibilities went well beyond the football field, Smith said.

“Checking in on them in their classrooms, going to school, making sure they’re doing what their supposed to do. If there was a bad report with the teacher, handling that if we need to. We made sure we were their father figure, their uncle figure, or their big brother figure that they needed. It was definitely very important. More important than the X’s and O’s.”

Smith told I-Team 8 whoever shot Hamilton on the foggy stretch of I-65 at County Line Road in Greenwood stole the soul of the community.

The Darius Shaq Leonard Maniac Foundation on Thursday released a statement on Facebook regarding Hamilton’s death.