Anderson recalls stepson's murder

Stampeders defensive back Dwight Anderson's stepson, Kanye, was killed by his father in an apparent...

Stampeders defensive back Dwight Anderson's stepson, Kanye, was killed by his father in an apparent failed murder-suicide attempt. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:09 AM ET

CALGARY -- Sitting behind the prisoner's box, listening to the horrific details of his stepson's murder, Dwight Anderson remembers the flood of emotions building inside him.

No more than 15 feet away from the man who'd suffocated nine-month-old Kanye Anderson and a two year-old girl on the muddy banks of the Mississippi River, Anderson struggled to comprehend how someone could do that to a child.

"Going through the trial was tough -- you're sitting in the front just looking at him and trying to understand what he did," the Calgary Stampeders cornerback said of a scene played out in a St. Louis courtroom in April 2007.

"I got all the details because I saw the photos of the scene from the police report. Once you get that picture in your head, it makes you mad. A couple times, I had to be told to calm down."

Little Kanye was the son of his now-wife Iesha from a previous relationship. The bodies of the children were found on a riverbank in 2004 when their father, Anthony Moore, failed in an apparent murder-suicide bid that saw him drive his car into the river with them in the back. When the vehicle got stuck in the mud, Moore got out, unbuckled both children and held them under the mud until they died.

It hasn't always been easy to respect Dwight Anderson on the field for No. 33's incessant trash talk, constant preening and annoying strut.

However, spend 10 minutes alone with the man, finding out a little more about what he's been through in life, and your perspective changes.

As his has on life.

"I don't look at (Kanye) as a stepson but as my own," Anderson said quietly.

"Those murders changed my life. It just gives you perspective that life could go at any moment. You can't take anything for granted. I look at that and I look at my life and I say, 'I should've been dead and gone a long time ago from the stuff I did and been through' and it kind of straightens you up. You say, 'Wow, that's a nine-month-old baby.' I'm 29 right now, and he never got a chance to see two.

"My wife's still dealing with it, especially when the birthday comes around -- that's a time I really try to get close to her and support her a lot, because that's tough times for anybody."

Growing up in a Jamaican slum with an abusive father who told his son in drunken rages he'd never see age 21, Anderson was no stranger to adversity.

"I was just a terrible kid," said the 29-year-old. "Fights in school. Didn't want to listen. Hardheaded. Didn't know stuff. Go out there when I shouldn't be out there. Crazy stuff like bad kids do.

"I had a lot of close calls, a lot of gang violence and bullets flying. But I think it all served a purpose. It wasn't the perfect life to live, but I think it was for me because if I didn't I wouldn't be here. That's how I put it in perspective."

Anderson got a new lease on life in 1992 when his family immigrated to Connecticut, where the former soccer player tried football in his junior year of high school. His rapid ascent in the sport led him to being the NFL's second Jamaican-born player, bringing him to St. Louis in 2004 -- the year of the murders.

While the adversity in his life is depicted in several of the tattoos that cover his body, Anderson says he's dedicated himself to becoming the father he never had. By beating the odds to make something of himself, he's already done well to break the familial cycle, giving his kids someone to look up to.

"I look back all the time at how I came up and how I can make my family better and be in a better situation than I was in," said Anderson, whose sons Kaleb, 9, and Kayh, 2, will have a new brother in October named after the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

"I haven't talked to my dad since my freshman year of college (ironically, when he turned 21) and I don't worry about it no more -- I'm a grown man. We didn't get along. It's kind of sad my sons don't get to see their grandfather, but that's life."

Crediting his two older brothers for straightening his life out and teaching him how to be a man, the dreadlocked dad was thrilled to spend the summer in Calgary with his wife and kids. And while they departed for St. Louis to start school last week, the plan is to have the family live full-time in Calgary next year, where there's little fear of the trouble Anderson got into as a youth.

"I really don't want my child to even think about going through what I did," said Anderson.

"I've seen a lot of things, but at the same time, I can use that to explain things to my son."

After playing 15 games with the Rams over the course of his three-year NFL stint, Anderson made the jump north following the trial in 2007, joining the Hamilton Tiger-Cats shortly after it was determined the murderer would serve life in prison.

Waived at season's end, it was only after the Stamps signed Anderson the following campaign that he began emerging as one of the CFL's best. As half of the league's best corner duo with Brandon Browner, Anderson has come up big throughout his three years in Calgary.

Never bigger than in the 2008 Grey Cup, when his interception on the last play of the third quarter helped seal the Stamps' win.

Sadly, he punctuated the victory by getting into the face of dejected Alouettes quarterback Anthony Calvillo with classless taunting.

For what it's worth, he explains the trash-talk aspect of his game is an expression misunderstood by fans.

"It's kind of an excitement thing -- I'm just having fun with it," said the 2009 West all-star and Stamps nominee as defensive player of the year.

"When my kids see me out there doing my thing, it shows I'm doing what I love to do. When you get a job later on in life, you've got to enjoy it because if you don't, it'll suck and you'll look at the clock all day long. I enjoy it, so it's something I'm trying to teach my kids."

One of the tougher lessons he's had to help Kaleb with stemmed from the loss of his sibling at a young age.

"He used to play with his little brother when he was younger but after he was murdered, he'd ask where Kanye was. It was rough on him, but I think after that it made him grow up a little bit. People always say he acts older than he is. Ask him about it now and he understands it -- he'll tell you, 'He's up there.' "

Anderson has come a long way from the slums of Spanish Town, a childhood of abuse and the devastation of losing a child.

Spurned constantly as a wayward youth and later as an aspiring young football player, Anderson never gave up hope there'd be better days ahead for him and the family he so dearly wanted to make better than the one he grew up in.

Things aren't perfect. They never have been for the man they call D.A.

But not only did he make it past 21, he's become a Grey Cup champion, a CFL all-star and a loving father.

Go ahead and guess which one means the most.

eric.francis@sunmedia.ca


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