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Frank Hall, reluctant hero, on June 24 cover of Sports Illustrated

Simon Bruty/SI


On Feb. 27, 2012, Chardon High School assistant football coach Frank Hall was faced with the question educators fear most: What do I do if a student pulls out a gun and starts shooting?

A troubled 17-year-old student forced Hall to answer that question when he stormed the school’s cafeteria and opened fire with a semiautomatic pistol, leaving three kids dying and a school in panic.

Hall, a beloved figure who -- despite a 6-foot-1, 350-pound frame -- is as gentle as they come, made a daring decision to charge the shooter and chase him from the school.

The story of Chardon’s tragedy and its reluctant hero is revisited and remembered in a cover story by senior writer Gary Smith in this week’s SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. 

Smith takes us through that frightful day in the small town 30 miles outside of Cleveland. “In a flash, Frank had determined that attack was the best defense, the only way to be who Frank Ray Hall always had been: the protector,” he writes.

PODCAST: Gary Smith discusses story with Richard Deitsch

Harder than making the decision to risk his life and confront a killer? Learning how to cope with the overwhelming grief in the weeks and months to come.

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GALLERY: 2013 Sports Illustrated covers