CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — A young man’s quick actions secured the safety of a girl during a shooting at a high school football game. Now, he’s being hailed a hero. As gunfire rang out last month at a playoff football game in Pleasantville, a football player from Camden sprang into action.
On Thursday, officials honored him for his bravery.
On Nov. 15, shots were fired in the stands of a high school football game in Pleasantville. A child was killed. Two people were injured and hundreds — if not thousands — of people were thrown into chaos, fearing for their lives.
Yet, in the midst of the unthinkable violence during the Pleasantville-Camden playoff game, examples of goodness and decency have emerged that include Kenneth Smith.
Smith, a senior, is the center for Camden High School’s football team. As players and fans took cover and ran from the shooter that tragic night, Smith saw a lost girl and took care of her.
“I got out the gate safely, I seen the little girl just crying,” Smith said. “I told her, ‘Get under the bleachers, everything is going to be OK.’ I just made sure I was there for her.”
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Smith protected and comforted the girl until things calmed down and she could find her parents. Smith says at the time, he didn’t think it was a big deal.
“I didn’t actually say nothing about it. The girl told her dad that I saved her life and her dad came up to my coach at the Linc and that’s when all this just built,” Smith said.
He said he thought of his own little sisters in the moment.
“I just needed to be there to comfort her because sometimes I need someone to comfort me,” Smith said. “Everybody needs someone to comfort them.”
Smith says he never told anyone what he did, but during the makeup game at Lincoln Financial Field, the girl’s father let Smith’s coach know.
On Thursday, Camden County Sheriff Gilbert “Whip” Wilson gave Smith several honors and praised the humble young man.
“It means a lot that you’re here and I’m so proud,” Wilson said. “Being a Camden High alumni, it makes me even prouder to stand here with a young man like you who is doing the right thing. I know you didn’t want all this, but it should be told. You represent the best of Camden.”
Smith says his actions were simply a reflection of the character his parents have instilled in him his whole life.
“My dad said he was proud of me. That meant a lot,” Smith said. “Yeah, I never thought I’d see that day, but we both cried.”
While officials are not providing the girl’s name, Smith has since learned it was a teammate’s little sister and the two of them recently reunited.
“She says that she is thankful and I just told her I was thankful for her because without God, none of this would be possible, so I’m just really blessed,” Smith said.