Back in 2011, NFL draft prospect Danny Shelton lost his brother Shennen during a shooting in Auburn.

Danny, who witnessed his brother’s fatal shooting, was only 17 at the time and and the incident forever changed the young defensive lineman’s life (Danny’s oldest brother Gaston was also shot that day but he thankfully survived). As a Seattle Times profile on Danny from earlier this year notes, coping with such a trauma is an “ongoing struggle” for Danny as he prepares for the NFL Draft.

Grit Media provided Danny with an opportunity to record a video diary on that fateful day as well as how his brother’s death has changed his outlook on life.

Danny’s account is emotional and completely honest. In it, he bravely recalls what went down the night his brother died.

The gunman was still standing up, gun is jammed and I get a chance to make a move. I throw a chair at him, take him down to the ground and start beating him. All of these things just pop into my head, not really knowing what to do. I just keep punching away and keep punching.

And me, I’m just trying to do damage. I didn’t care if the guy died. So, I was just doing that and for some reason, my arm just freezes up. I can’t choke a dude out anymore, I can’t punch him anymore and I get off.

Found out that my second older brother did make it. He died at 22 and it was just crazy for my mom, she had it the worst. Me, I’m 17 at the time getting ready to graduate, getting ready to go to college.

And while such an event will never lose its inherent sadness, it has helped make Danny into a stronger man as he embarks onto his next journey – a very promising football career. Danny is a projected top ten draft pick who both CBS Sports and compare to Vince Wilfork.

For Danny, it’s all about moving forward.

“I started preparing myself. I started thinking that if my brother didn’t make it out, I’m going to have to be the man of the house. I’m going to have to be a father figure. So I didn’t know if I was going to college or anything.

The pain, the sadness, the emotion never goes away. It’s always there, but there is a way to move forward and that’s what I kind of found out throughout the four years of college just working with my coaches and working on controlling my emotions, working on being a better football player, being a better student in the classroom, working on making my family proud.

You need to be strong for the person next to you, strong for your family members, you have to be strong in order to make it out. It’s not easy to do, but it definitely helps if you have somebody there to help you out. Take every opportunity and move forward. Move forward throughout everything. Be positive throughout everything.”

[Grit Media]