Tonight’s E:60 (ESPN, 9:30 p.m. ET) features an exclusive interview with Chris Singleton, a 19-year old outfielder for Charleston Southern University, whose mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and eight others were shot and killed in the Charleston Emanuel AME church massacre on June 17, 2015.
Singleton speaks with ABC’s award-winning correspondent, Bob Woodruff, about a mother’s love, a night of horror and how baseball saved his life.
Here, coordinating producer Ben Houser provides some thoughts on what makes this piece so powerful.
What do you hope viewers take away from this piece?
Chris Singleton is one of the strongest people we have ever featured on the show. When he spoke less than 24 hours after his mother’s tragic death, his message was “love is stronger than hate.” His words and act of forgiveness to the person responsible for her death resonated with the people of Charleston and bonded a community rather than inciting riots. For him to echo these sentiments at such a trying time was powerful. He inspired the people of Charleston and those across the country.
At just 19 years old Chris is incredibly mature and it is clear that his mother, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, a pastor and a teacher, had a profound impact on his life. They shared a close bond, especially when he played baseball. Sharonda was her son’s biggest fan. We want to show Sharonda Coleman-Singleton to the viewers. We want her smile to come through, her love of her children, her passion for sports.
What did you find most challenging?
This piece was difficult to work on given its own unique set of circumstances – in particular the subject matter and time frame of when this tragedy occurred just weeks ago. Feature producer Dan Lindberg and I worked together compiling video elements, writing and filming to co-produce the story. Dan is one of the best young feature producers we have at ESPN. Teamwork is essential and together we were able to accomplish more in a short period of time.
Can you share any particularly moving moments while working on this story?
When Dan and I filmed with Chris Singleton at the Mother Emanuel AME church in downtown Charleston, it was incredibly moving. He was reading items that were left at the memorial in front of the church about his mother. He also went inside the church for the first time since the massacre. Chris chose to tell his powerful story to a national audience once, and we are grateful he has done so with E:60.