Landry-Walker High School football player Johan Kenner died Sunday evening the way he often lived — watching sports.
Family members said Kenner, 17, was still recovering from his second ACL knee surgery when at least one gunman opened fire at St. Roch Playground, within walking distance of his home.
Unable to run, Kenner was shot multiple times in the back. He died later at Interim LSU Hospital, apparently the victim of random violence.
Outside the hospital, family, friends and members of the Landry-Walker community gathered to mourn the loss of another promising teenager.
Kenner, once known on the football field as No. 10, was the 59th homicide victim this year in New Orleans.
“He was a sweetheart,” said his mother, Cortina Johnson-Cash.
As of early Monday evening, the New Orleans Police Department had not released information about a suspect or a motive.
Kenner had walked to the park with his older brother, Joshua, who escaped the gunshots.
They shared a bedroom at home, with Joshua Kenner’s sports memorabilia hanging on the wall above their twin beds, dominating his younger brother’s collection. Johan Kenner, though, had one more year in high school for his accomplishments to meet his aspirations.
“He hadn’t reached his full potential, but he worked hard,” said his high school football coach, Emanuel Powell.
Like most boys, Kenner dreamed of playing sports in college and beyond — even against the recommendation of his mother, who thought he was too small at 5-foot-9 and 127 pounds to play football.
Undeterred, he played anyway.
Kenner spent last fall as a reserve running back and receiver on the Landry-Walker football team, one of the best programs in metro New Orleans. The Charging Buccaneers, in their first season since the merger of two Algiers high schools, reached the Class 4A state semifinals before losing to defending champion Edna Karr.
This fall was supposed to be Kenner’s time to play on Friday nights. All he had to do was continue rehabbing his surgically repaired knee, then get back on the playing field.
Until then, he was watching others.
“It was going to be a big year for him, his chance to show out,” said Damian Bocage, an assistant football coach at Landry-Walker and former head coach at Landry High.
Kenner, who had three brothers and five sisters in all, also was a guard on Landry-Walker’s junior varsity basketball squad and a right-handed pitcher on the baseball team.
If he wasn’t playing sports, he was watching them.
“All he wanted to do — I hate to keep saying the same thing — but all he wanted to do was go to college and play sports,” Johnson-Cash said. “That’s all he wanted to do.”