When Maurice Canady heard the news, he immediately knew he had to do something, anything, to help. At first he wasn’t sure how, he just knew he needed to do whatever he could to assist the Guindon family. That’s because Canady knew what they were experiencing; he knew how it felt to lose someone you love.
Last Friday Ashley Guindon, 28, was sworn in as an officer in the Prince William County police department. On Saturday, during her first shift on the job, Guindon responded to a domestic dispute call at the house of Army staff sergeant Ronald Hamilton, 32, and his wife Crystal, 29, in Woodbridge, Va. When Guindon and two other officers—David McKeown, 33, and Jesse Hempen, 31—approached the door, Ronald Hamilton opened fire. The ensuing bullets hit all three officers, killing Guindon and injuring McKeown and Hempen. Inside the house, Crystal Hamilton had already been killed.
Canady, a cornerback out of the University of Virginia, was in Indianapolis for the NFL combine when he heard about Guindon’s murder. He was preparing for arguably the biggest day of his athletic career: On Monday morning, he was set to run the 40-yard dash. For most players, it’s a time when you are so locked into your own world that you don’t want to think about anything other than your impending 120-foot sprint, the results of which could end up being the difference of a round or two in April’s draft.
Yet when Canady heard about Guindon’s murder—when he found out that it was her first day on the job and that it occurred only about two hours north of his hometown of Richmond—he knew he needed to use whatever platform he might have to help. To heal. So he scribbled “Officer Guindon 2/27/16 Never Forget” onto his orange cleats and took the field.
“I just knew I needed to do something to support her family,” Canady says. “It hit so close to home because I’m just starting my career and she just started hers. And I’ve been through something similar.”
Canady has felt the pain of losing a loved one. In 2002 Canady’s aunt, Pamela Lewis, was in her house when an intruder shot her in the arm. She later died from the wound in the hospital. Another senseless murder, another family member lost. “For my family, it was a dark cloud,” Canady says. “It felt like it was a bad dream that you couldn’t wake up from.”
There was another reason that Canady felt an emotional connection to the news of a stranger’s death. His cousin, Alexus Canady, had just recently been sworn in as a police officer in the Prince George’s County police department in Maryland, which meant that Canady had an added respect for what it takes to become an officer.
“Being a police officer is not easy,” Canady says. “And it being taken away like that, especially when you work so hard to get somewhere. It’s just a tragedy. It just led me to think about the people that I love, and how quickly things can change.”
So when Canady took the field earlier Monday to run the 40 in his specially decorated cleats, he had added motivation. He was thinking of his late aunt and of the Guindon family. Honoring the memory of Ashley Guindon, Canady posted a time of 4.49, 13th best among cornerbacks.
Canady plans to auction off one of the cleats and donate the proceeds to a memorial fund established for Guindon’s family. He will personally deliver the other cleat to the Prince William police department after his March 15 pro day in Charlottesville.
“I know how something in someone’s life can change so quick and can affect their family,” Canady says. “I know what the [Guindon] family is feeling. So I just wanted to do something, anything, to show support for her and her family.”