GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Goodlettsville has one of the best Little League baseball programs in the country, producing the United Champions in 2012, and this year is no different. But for one family, this summer's All-Star run has provided healing from a tragedy more than a decade ago.
October 28, 2011, was the darkest day in the history of the Wisdom family. That day 71-year-old Ed Wisdom Jr. was gunned down in front of his north Nashville home.
"I just can't imagine any attack would be directed at him or his character because everybody respected him," said Wisdom's son Ed Wisdom III on the night of the murder.
Wisdom Jr. was a pillar in the community. A 40-year public servant who had just retired from Tennessee State University, and a man who had dedicated his time to reducing crime in and around his neighborhood.
"We all share in the sorrow," his son said. "I will make sure I work that much harder to continue what he was doing."
Fast forward 11 years and Ed Wisdom III is making good on that promise, giving back to his community. And the legacy of Ed Jr. lives on through not just him, but his grandson Kristian Jones and an 11-year-old All-Star baseball team from Goodlettsville.
Ed Jr. serves as the head coach and Kristian is one of the team's star pitchers and middle infielders.
Jones was born just months before Wisdom Jr. was murdered. And while he never got to know his great grandfather, Wisdom III sees some of his dad in the budding baseball star.
"What I believe is his spirit is pouring all over Kristian in all that he's doing in life," Wisdom III said after a recent practice. "My father was one that dotted i's and crossed t's. He believed that if you were going to do something you do it to the best of your ability, and so I see that kind of determination in Kristian."
Jones began playing baseball for his grandfather at age five, and credits that coaching for his All-Star success.
"He taught me how to hit and pitch a lot, and field pretty good," Jones said.
That instruction has helped Jones and his teammates have a breakout summer. With nine new All-Stars that didn't make last year's team, this group is turning heads.
They won a very competitive middle Tennessee district losing just one game. Then they rolled through the state tournament, reaching the final. After losing the first game, Jones and Goodlettsville rallied back to win the championship and advance to the Southeast Regional.
"He's just got that will to win to win," Wisdom III said. "He won't give up and he's shown that in the district and state tournaments."
The Southeast Regional begins this weekend in Wilson, North Carolina. The boys from Goodlettsville are headed there with one goal in mind.
"We're going to win, a lot," Jones said.
And for the Wisdom family, the regional will be another chance to honor the legacy of the patriarch they lost on that awful day 11 years ago.
Ed Wisdom Jr. served as a Jumpmaster for the Army's 82nd Airborne unit at Fort Bragg, not far from Wilson. He later met his wife nearby.
And Ed Jr. believes his dad will be watching down over him and Kristian as they go for the regional title and continue to turn a senseless tragedy into a story of triumph.
"My father always throughout life adopted the 82nd airborne's motto, which was 'all the way,'" Wisdom III said. "And so in everything we do I even tell the boys, 'let's take this all the way.' So that's what we plan on doing."