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The Boy They Couldn't Kill
THOMAS LAKE
September 17, 2012
Thirteen years ago, NFL receiver Rae Carruth conspired to kill his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn son. The child has not only survived but thrived—thanks to the unwavering love of his grandmother
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September 17, 2012

The Boy They Couldn't Kill

Thirteen years ago, NFL receiver Rae Carruth conspired to kill his pregnant girlfriend and their unborn son. The child has not only survived but thrived—thanks to the unwavering love of his grandmother

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"Yee-ahh," Lee says.

"Yeah," G-Mom says. "We wanna say he made a mistake. He did a bad, bad thing. And he hurt Mommy."

"Yee-ahh," Lee says.

"Yeah. It's O.K., baby. It's O.K.—"

She stops, because Lee is interrupting her with a question.

Forgiveness is a skill, like any other, and Rae Carruth and his representatives have given Saundra Adams a stunning amount of practice.

The murder was only the beginning. Then, of course, there was the demand for custody, the team of experts, the court-ordered jailhouse visit and, after the conviction, a nationally televised interview that poured salt in the wound. Carruth explained the murder with the same convoluted story that he had offered at his trial—in short, that he agreed to fund a drug deal with Little Man and New York, and the deal fell through, and New York was so furious that when he found Cherica alone on a dark road and she refused to help him track down Carruth, he shot her in a fit of rage. Even if you believe every implausible word of that story, you must also conclude that Carruth bears some responsibility for Cherica's death. He kept these dangerous criminals around. But when Leslie Boghosian of CNN/SI asked him about his association with the men who killed Cherica and left his son with brain damage, these were the first words out of his mouth: "I feel guilty about none of it."

And when asked if he had anything to tell Cherica's family, he said nothing about being sorry for their loss. Instead he said more about himself, and how, if the Adamses would get to know him, they might start "pulling for me" to get his conviction reversed.

He had a chance to make himself known two years later, on Aug. 13, 2003, when Saundra and Ellerbe drove 200 miles to see him at the Nash Correctional Institution in Nashville, N.C. Ellerbe was there to take Carruth's deposition in Saundra's wrongful-death suit against Carruth and his henchmen. Saundra believed Carruth couldn't be all bad if her daughter had loved him. She wanted to look him in the eye and hear him tell the story of Cherica's last night.

ELLERBE: This is a deposition and—are you familiar with what a deposition is?

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