Former Kamloops football coach mourning deaths of brother, cousin in Chicago

Dionte Jelks’ brother, Darius Jelks, and cousin, Maurice Jelks, were killed while driving through protests on the south side of Chicago. Kamloops Community Football Society board members are raising money for the Jelks family.

Kamloops Community Football Society board members are raising money for the family of former coach Dionte Jelks, whose brother and cousin were murdered on Sunday in Chicago.

Dionte Jelks’ brother, Darius Jelks, 31, and cousin Maurice Jelks, 39, were killed while driving through protests on the south side of Chicago.

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“They were driving back to my mom’s house and they were stopped at a stoplight in the middle of a lot of looting,” Jelks, 42, told Cindy E. Harnett of the Victoria Times Colonist. “They were both shot in the car right there on the street in broad daylight. It could have been anybody.”

Jelks, who now lives on Vancouver Island, doesn’t know who killed them.

George Floyd, a black man, was killed while being arrested on May 25 by Minneapolis Police officers. Four officers — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — were fired and have since been charged with murder-related counts.

Video of the arrest shows Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for many minutes as Floyd complained he could not breathe. Floyd then stopped breathing and died.

His death has sparked protests across the U.S., some peaceful and others tinged with violence.

A GoFundMe campaign can be found online at

Jelks cannot be by his mother’s side when she buries her son and nephew.

The former Broncos’ coach returned to Chicago in October for the funeral of a nephew who died by suicide, but will not make the trip amid the pandemic.

"She's broken up. She's into pieces,” Jelks told CBC News. “It's so hard for me to even talk to her, to comfort her. I don't have the words to say to her."

A GoFundMe account was started to help pay for funeral costs. More than $11,000 has been raised since Monday.

“If you look at the articles, another cousin passed away not long ago, and she [Jelks’ mother] used her savings to lay him to rest,” Brandi Thring, a Kamloops Community Football Society board member, told KTW.

Jelks, who grew up on the south side of Chicago, wants to bring two nephews, including the six-year-old son of his dead brother, from Chicago to Vancouver Island to live with his family.

The Kamloops Community Football Society is planning a bottle drive to raise money it will send to Jelks, who coached the Broncos for about four years.

Elias, Derian and Felix Dyck
Elias, Derian and Felix Dyck got their hands dirty this week, picking up cans and bottles in support of former coach Dionte Jelks. - Melisa Dyck photo

“We want to do something. They do so much for their community and are such a huge part of so many lives here in Kamloops, on and off the field,” Thring said. “He is a much-loved and well-respected member of the football community, as are his three boys and his wife. He told the boys he was leaving at our 2018 year-end banquet. Everyone was in tears.”

Anyone wishing to donate cans and bottles can find the Kamloops Community Football Society on Facebook. Send a message to arrange collection.

“With his sense of humour, he was always reminding the boys, ‘Go home, do the laundry for your mom. Make her a cup of tea. She works hard for you,’" Thring said. “He was just involved in every part of their lives.”

Jelks was 30 when he moved to Canada from the U.S., in part to escape systemic racism and violence.

He was hired as principal of Skeetchestn Community School in Savona in 2015, at which point he joined the Broncos’ ranks.

In 2019, Jelks moved to Vancouver Island and took a job as principal of Ladysmith intermediate school.

Jelks lives in Langford and coaches the Victoria Spartans football team.

“At times, you know, I sit with my wife and I’m like, ‘You know, I should be there, you know, helping,’ but on the other hand, you know, I want to break the cycle and have my kids be raised the right way,” Jelks told the Times Colonist. “It’s like a no-win situation and it just tears me apart all constantly.”

Money raised

On Wednesday, after one day of bottle and can collecting, the Kamloops Community Football Society had raised $350.

The total was about $700 as of 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Ben Wormell
Ben Wormell of the Kamloops Broncos with a big haul. - Melisa Dyck photo




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