Deverin King jumps over a hurdle at a track meet in 2018
This photo was taken in July of 2018 when Deverin King was at the qualifier match for the Junior Olympics. This was the summer before his freshman year of high school. (Photo provided by Anita King)

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Friends and family of Deverin King, a standout student athlete who was killed in a 2023 motorcycle accident, are organizing a fundraising event they are sure he’d approve of: a track meet for everyone.

The DK Memorial Track Meet will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, June 1, at Harrison Stadium on the Drury University campus.

Admission is $5, and participants pay $15, which covers entry fees for any and all events. Proceeds go to Deverin’s Locker, a new nonprofit organization and fund that provides new and gently used sports equipment and grants for sports activity fees. The goal is to make sports accessible to any family, regardless of income. 

Deverin’s Locker is part of the Ambassadors for Children program at the Council of Churches of the Ozarks.

Deverin King (on right) is pictured with a teammate from his days with the Pershing Middle School track team
Deverin King (right) is pictured with a teammate from his days with the Pershing Middle School track team. (Photo provided by Anita King)

Deverin King’s mother, Anita King, started Deverin’s Locker as a way to honor her son and his passion for sports.

“I wanted something that really spoke to who he was,” Anita King said. “I wanted to make sure that he was still remembered for who he was. And really the core of who he was was a student athlete.”

Anita King believes Deverian would be very proud and excited about the planned all-inclusive track meet where middle schoolers can run alongside adult amateur runners, and high schoolers can compete against college athletes.

Deverian’s friend and Evangel track teammate Eli Saenz agreed. Saenz is helping organize the track meet.

“He would think this is an amazing opportunity for others to have a chance to participate and come together as a community,” Saenz said. “I hope everyone can come out and support an amazing cause.”

Planned events include 100- and 200-meter races up to a 1600-meter race, plus hurdles and hurdles relay competitions.

A toddler run is planned for kids ages 5 and under, a nod to Deverian King’s love for babies and children, his mother said.

The final event — and possibly the most entertaining — will be the inflatable run. Participants will race while wearing inflatable costumes

The La chiva Colombiana food truck will be selling concessions at the DK Memorial Track Meet. 

Anita King hopes to make the DK Memorial Track Meet an annual event and the main fundraiser for Deverin’s Locker.

‘He was so fast and so powerful’

Deverin Lamont King was 18 when he was killed in a motorcycle accident on March 30, 2023.

According to his mother, Deverin King broke two school track records while at Pershing Middle School. He competed and placed in the 2018 National Junior Olympics in the 200-meter hurdles, making him a Junior Olympian. 

Deverin set a record in the 300-meter hurdles his junior year at Central High School, breaking a record that had been on the board for 41 years. He broke his own record his senior year and then broke it again at the Missouri State High School Activities Association Track and Field Championship, where he finished seventh in the state. 

Deverin King was 18 when he died in a motorcycle crash in 2023. (Photo provided by Anita King)

“The hurdles were his deal,” Anita King said. “He was amazing because he did not look like the typical hurdler. The typical hurdler had super long legs and was really, like a lean, tight body.

“He was not tall,” his mom said, adding that Deverin stood about 5-foot-9. “But he was very muscular. His legs were so powerful.”

“And he showed that not only on the track, but he played basketball since he was little bitty,” she said. “And he would always have the ball just because he was so fast and so powerful. He was an amazing rebounder.”

Deverin was recruited by dozens of colleges for track, Anita King said, but chose Evangel University because he wanted to stay close to home in Springfield.

Deverin King not only excelled at track, but played basketball at Central High School. (Photo provided by Anita King)

Deverin was a great student, too, his mom said. He earned both track scholarships and academic scholarships to Evangel.

“He really was just a sweet, sweet soul who was passionate and determined,” Anita King said. “Being able to do something in his honor that helps other people, I think, is just an amazing way to keep Deverin’s name out in the community.”

Deverin King is pictured with his mom, Anita King, and grandmother when he received an NAACP scholarship
Deverin King is pictured with his mom, Anita King, and grandmother, Linda Smith, when he received an NAACP scholarship. (Photo provided by Anita King)

Jackie Rehwald

Jackie Rehwald is a reporter at the Hauxeda. She covers public safety, the courts, homelessness, domestic violence and other social issues. Her office line is 417-837-3659. More by Jackie Rehwald