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Mom accepts diploma for son who died in drowning accident

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Debra Redwine walked across the stage in honor of her son, Armani Flowers.

 

 

 

By Chanda Temple

Special to the Times

Debra Redwine walked across the stage in honor of her son, Armani Flowers.
“Today meant a lot to me. Although he’s not with me, he’s here with me in spirit,” Redwine said, clutching the diploma.

 

There were plenty of applause and cheers at the Carver High School graduation on May 16 as students received their diplomas at Bill Harris Arena.

But perhaps the loudest cheers came when Debra Redwine walked across the stage in honor of her son, Armani Flowers. Flowers died on June 20, 2015 in a drowning accident at Oak Mountain State Park. He was 17.

With tears in her eyes and wearing the school’s red cap and gown, Redwine hugged each person on stage as she accepted her son’s diploma. “I don’t know how I made it across that stage, but I did,” she said.

The cheers from Armani’s classmates helped.

“He cared about people. These kids here have so much love for him,” Redwine said.

The staff at Carver High also have love for Armani, which is why they dedicated the first Carver football game in honor of Armani and presented Redwine with one of his framed art pieces last fall. Also, Carver High Principal Dr. Charles Willis invited Redwine to participate in the graduation ceremonies. When Dr. Willis made the offer, Redwine couldn’t think of any better way to honor her son.

“I thought it was awesome,” Redwine said.

Students also thought the gesture was nice as they recalled memories of Armani after graduation.

Debra Redwine walked across the stage in honor of her son, Armani Flowers.
Debra Redwine walked across the stage in honor of her son, Armani Flowers.

Carver classmate Johnecia Perry said she sat next to Armani in history class, where he was always telling stories. And classmate Tyshondria Robbins said she’d known Armani since the third grade. For years, he kept her laughing. “He was a really funny person to be around,” Tyshondria said. “He was good at rapping, too.”

As Robbins talked, Redwine nodded in agreement, adding that she knew her son had written lyrics but she never heard him rap.  It was only after his death that she discovered his recorded raps on his computer. Having those recorded songs and the diploma give her extra comfort.

“Today meant a lot to me. Although he’s not with me, he’s here with me in spirit,” Redwine said, clutching the diploma. “This is what he wanted. He wanted to go to art school. He was so talented.”

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