Shoe artist helps bring Triston Reece’s memory to the Grey Cup
A small portrait has a huge impact on a mother who lost her son
December 5, 2019, 7:00 am ASTLast Updated: December 5, 2019, 1:32 pm
Dale Adams remembers her son dreaming of playing professional football when he was eight. Eleven years later, she saw him at the Grey Cup in Calgary — not in person, but memorialized on a pair of Chucks.
That boy’s name was Triston Reece.
His mother describes him as a funny young man who wholeheartedly loved his endless list of friends. He’s someone who will live on in their hearts after being shot and killed at the age of 19 just over four months ago.
“He was my only child. He was my greatest gift from God. And the way that he left is — it still doesn’t register,” says Adams.
She remembers him playing basketball at four, picking up football when he was eight, playing all through junior high and high school, rediscovering his faith at 17 and working hard to someday wear a Saint Mary’s Huskies uniform.
Reece’s dream was to play in the CFL. It was what drove him. On Nov. 24, his portrait made an appearance at the championship game.
Matthew Scianitti, a sports reporter for TSN, had a pair of Converse sneakers painted with Reece’s portrait to wear to the Grey Cup in Calgary.
This came shortly after meeting Reece’s mother at Touchdown Atlantic in Moncton in late August.
“I wanted that kind of gesture to very much be in the active sense of Triston is fulfilling his dream by getting to the Grey Cup,” says Scianitti.
The CFL had called Adams and brought her down to watch the Montreal Alouettes play the Toronto Argonauts where she would do the ceremonial kickoff.
“Triston had said to me, ‘Mom, the CFL’s coming to Moncton, you know we gotta go to that game,’” says Adams. “So, we would have been there anyway, if Triston was alive, him and his best friend, me and his godmother.”
Scianitti was assigned to speak to her on the sidelines, but chose to do so off-camera. He says she gave off an air of grief, mercy, love and strength. He had heard about Reece and says he was impressed by the way Adams was able to carry herself.
A few weeks later, he reached out to Kemmy Smith, a local Halifax artist, to paint a portrait of Reece on the side of white Chucks that he would wear as a sideline reporter at the Grey Cup.
Scianitti says they both saw this as an opportunity to place a “ray of sunshine on an incredibly sad story.”
Shortly after a picture of the shoes was posted online, Reece’s cousin reached out to Smith to say that he had showed Adams the work.
The message said that Adams was brought to tears and that Smith had “captured him so perfectly.”
“I might of shed a tear myself because his mom actually saw them,” says Smith. “I was like ‘oh wow, my work is actually touching people.”
He says that it feels good to be able to give back and that his art has a meaning.
The shoes made it onto the field, getting photographed at the 50-yard line where Reece wanted to line up someday, and by the trophy he would have loved to hold.
Adams is touched by the thought to immortalize her son through art and help him achieve his dreams.
She says faith plays a big role in what keeps her strong, saying she remembers her son rediscovering his own faith. She says he couldn’t deny God after getting sent so many signs.
“He said to me one day, just out of the blue, ‘Mom, you know if anything ever happens to me you don’t have to worry, I’m with Jesus.’” In response, Adams said, “Triston, that’s craziness, you’re going to bury me. That’s the natural chain of life.”
Reece was shot on a Halifax street on July 26 and died early the next morning. Kaz Henry Cox, 40, has been charged with first-degree murder. He is scheduled to appear in provincial court on Thursday.
Adams is grateful many people are helping to keep Reece’s memory alive.
“I’m just overwhelmed with the support and the kindness that people have shown me. It’s unbelievable.”
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