Fayette County

Family wrestles with emotions after death of Tates Creek graduate

Louisville receiver Daniel Covington (30)at media day activities for the football team at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009.  Photo by GARRY JONES
Louisville receiver Daniel Covington (30)at media day activities for the football team at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville, Ky., Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009. Photo by GARRY JONES Garry Jones

LOUISVILLE — Former Tates Creek and University of Louisville football player Daniel Covington was killed in downtown Louisville early Thursday in a shooting that police say might be self-defense.

Covington, 23, was shot in the left arm and torso, according to Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Rita Taylor. He was taken to University Hospital, where he died just after 3 a.m.

Police said Covington, who was driving with a passenger, was shot after a confrontation with two men in another car at a city stoplight. Police have interviewed the shooter, who wasn't identified, but they haven't filed charges.

"You have a right to protect yourself in your home, and that extends to your vehicle, too, I believe," Louisville police Lt. Barry Wilkerson said.

Covington was a former football player at Lexington's Tates Creek High School. He played two seasons at safety for the Cardinals, finishing second on the team with 66 tackles in 2008 and collecting 20 tackles in 10 games in 2009.

Just a couple of hours after Covington's death, his family welcomed Josephine Danielle Covington. The baby, named for her deceased uncle, is the daughter of Covington's older brother, Virgil Covington III, and Paulynn Covington of Lexington.

"I don't know what to feel," said Daniel Covington's older sister, Rebecca Covington, an actress based in Brooklyn, N.Y.

"We're not drowning in sorrow. We're in disbelief, but we're in belief that God is in control," she said of her brother's death. "We have moments, but we're OK."

Rebecca Covington said Daniel Covington had been working in Louisville. He had aspirations to play in the NFL.

She said she talked to him almost every day, and he had just sent her a copy of his biography for her to proofread.

"He was just such a hard worker. Everything he did, he did 100 percent," Rebecca Covington said. "I was really proud of him. I can't believe I'm talking in the past tense."

Rebecca Covington said that she, Daniel and their brother Virgil were very close, and the three of them often talked together on Skype.

The trio grew up at Lexington's Main Street Baptist Church.

"There are so many times that Daniel would send me a devotional or I would send Daniel a devotional," she said.

Whether he was playing video games or at a karaoke bar, "he was the life of every situation he was in," she added. "His spirit was so much bigger than himself. He was amazing."

Former Tates Creek football coach Mark Willoughby, who coached the 2004 all-city defensive back, remembered Covington as a "dedicated football player, a good kid, an enthusiastic kid who was full of life.

"He walked on at Louisville and hung on and hung on until he was a starter. That was pretty typical of him. He could be told 'no,' but he would work his way up until it was 'yes.'"

Wilkerson, the Louisville police lieutenant, said Covington and his passenger had tracked down the car of the gunman after an earlier altercation.

"We believe something may have been said," Wilkerson said.

The shooter told police he fired one shot after he and his passenger were pummeled by a man who lunged through an open car window, Wilkerson said.

"They said he was pretty far inside the vehicle," Wil kerson said.

The bullet appeared to have gone through the passenger's hand before striking the assailant in the chest, police said. Officers found Covington wounded across the street a short time later, Wilkerson said.

The shooter and his passenger were pulled over by officers a short time later, headed for University Hospital, Wilkerson said. Both had injuries to their faces, Wilkerson said.

In addition to his sister, his brother and sister-in-law and his niece, Daniel Covington is survived by his mother, Donna Covington of Nicholasville, and his father, Virgil Covington Jr. of Georgetown, an educator, who was formerly principal of Lexington's Winburn Middle School.

Kerr Brothers Funeral Home on Harrodsburg Road is in charge of arrangements, which were incomplete Thursday.

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