Former UVA teammate says Perry 'never strayed away from a battle'
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- During the 2020 COVID pandemic, Miami natives Mandy Alonso and D'Sean Perry sent a video to then UVA head coach Bronco Mendenhall letting him know they were putting in the work.
"What's up coach ready to get back to work, let's go," Perry said in a video recorded by Mandy Alonso Sr.
"Coach we're already working down here let's take it to CVille," Alonso said.
Mandy Alonso looks out into his backyard in Miami and can still remember those daily workouts with his teammate and friend D'Sean Perry.
"Especially with D'Sean thinking about all the times that we would work out here during COVID he came over every day that whole time and we would workout every day," Alonso said, "My dad was telling me I could see him walking through the door now."
Early Monday morning Alonso woke up to messages in a group text with former UVA teammates and one from former linebacker Charles Snowden III saying Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and fellow Miami native D'Sean Perry were the victims of a tragic shooting on grounds. Alonso lives only a few blocks from Perry's family and while driving this week was overcome by emotion thinking about his friend.
"I wasn't headed towards his house, but towards that area and I just started balling crying in the car," Alonso said.
Alonso first met Perry as teammates at Gulliver Prep lining up next to each other on the defensive line.
"He was just like a gentle giant, he was just this big, tall, lanky kid that always had a smile on his face and he was always cracking jokes," Alonso said, "He was always a person to uplift others."
At UVA, Alonso and teammates saw Perry flourish as an artist and musician with D'Sean treating the team to a freestyle rap with former assistant coach Mark Atuaia or a song on the piano.
"Every game we would go to a hotel, usually Boar's Head and he would pull out the piano, like the big piano they had in Boar's Head," Alonso said, "It was just something that he picked up, it wasn't nothing like he started at a young age, he picked up and then he really dove into it."
On the field few will forget his pick-six against Abilene Christian in 2020. Perry was constantly striving for more working out with Alonso and Aaron Faumui, but D'Sean did not see the fruit of those labors pay off until this season.
"It sucks that he's gone now," Alonso said, "but I'm really proud of what he endured at UVA to get to where he is now, he never strayed away from a battle or nothing."
Just days before the tragic shooting, Alonso and his girlfriend Meryl got a call from Perry out of the blue to check in on Alonso who had been diagnosed with myocarditis, a conversation Alonso will hold onto dearly...
"I'm glad that I had to get that conversation last week because, I hadn't talked to him since I think August and then he hit me up out of nowhere," Alonso said, "I'm happy I got to talk to him before."