Paul Sampleton Jr. was a 14-year-old overachiever. Even when his baseball or football team won, he grew angry with himself if he thought he had not contributed enough. And when he sat on the bench during games, he fretted about why his coaches had not put him in to play. “Patience was not one of his biggest attributes,” his mother, Stephanie Stone, told msnbc.com.
Paul, of Grayson, Ga., wanted to be the next Roy Campanella, an early 20th-century catcher on the Brooklyn Dodgers. He dreamed of attending a Division I college–maybe Florida State University–on a sports scholarship. He was a catcher for recreational baseball and hoped to try out for Grayson High School’s team this spring. Last fall, he joined the school’s freshman football team.
When he wasn’t playing sports, Paul collected high-end sneakers in all different colors. “Kids would say, ‘Paul would have tennis shoes before they went on the shelf [at the store],’” said Stone, adding that he took “better care of his shoes than his bedroom.” He had about 10 pairs of sneakers in his closet at any one time, and especially liked Jordans and Nikes. His most recent obsession: the Nike Foamposite sneakers. When he lost interest in a shoe, he often sold the pair to a friend to earn money for the next popular item.
Paul also saved money from doing chores around the house. If being a professional ballplayer didn’t pan out, he thought he might want to be a marine biologist–until he realized he would have to learn how to swim. “There are a lot of teenagers who don’t care about what happens to them in the future,” his older sister, Tarniecia Sampleton, told msnbc.com. “He wasn’t one of those people.”
Paul was shot and killed during a robbery at his home in Grayson on Dec. 19, 2012.