MULLINS, S.C. – Wearing a T-shirt that read “Love your neighbor,” Chris Singleton visited Mullins High School on May 23 to speak with a group of students about his commitment to honor his mother through encouraging words.
Singleton is the son of Emanuel AME shooting victim Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. She was one of nine people killed during Bible study inside the Charleston church in a racially motivated attack on June 17, 2015.
The Goose Creek native was drafted in the 19th round out of Charleston Southern University, played minor league baseball for the Chicago Cubs and now serves as the Charleston RiverDogs’ director of community outreach.
“I loved the audience, and they were very attentive,” Singleton said of the group. “They soaked everything up, and it’s always good when kids come up to me afterward. I’m just blessed to do it.”
Singleton, 22, delivered a message of forgiveness and helping others through their struggle. He has traveled to more than 50 schools for speaking appearances over the past two years. Singleton's story and new role from athlete to motivational speaker have gained national attention.
“My strength was tested when I had to tell my 12-year-old little brother and my 15-year-old little sister that we will never see our mom ever again,” he said. “Never see her smile. Never hear her laugh. Never feel the warmth of her hug. Never taste her bad cooking ever again, all because somebody took her life because of the color of her skin.”
Singleton said he wanted to discuss things he wished he had known when faced with overcoming the “unthinkable adversity.”
“Some things in our life we don’t have control over,” he said. “But you always have a choice in how you respond and how you react.”
Singleton said his mission is for people to love one another not based on race or religion. He also hopes to inspire others to be kind to somebody who looks different from them.
“My choice is forgiveness,” he said. “Forgiveness takes courage.”
Now he’s head of his own household, spending more time with a growing family.
Singleton married his fiancé, Mariana, on live television, appearing on Lifetime’s “My Great Big Live Wedding” on Feb. 19. The couple’s son, C.J., will turn 2 years old in October.
He also has a 19-year-old sister who attends Claflin University and a 16-year-old brother in high school at Goose Creek.
The meeting was presented by Chosen Generation Organization. The newly formed group under adviser Chris Davis is designed to help youth overcome adversity without anger along with turning negative responses to positive reactions. Davis said the organization is dedicated to inspiring and empowering students for the future.