Antreal Allen has a new guardian angel. His nephew, Phil Dowdell, was one of four victims in the Dadeville, Alabama mass shooting at a Sweet 16 birthday party for his little sister, Alexis, on April 15. Allen, an assistant football coach at Georgia State in Atlanta, bonded with Dowdell through many avenues, including sports. At Dadeville High School, Dowdell was a star football player and track star who was also on the basketball team. He was set to begin his college football career at Jacksonville State in the fall.
After Dowdell’s candlelight vigil in Camp Hill, Alabama on April 20, Allen spoke to rolling out about what his nephew meant to him.
When did you first hear the news about Phil?
One of my sisters called me late that night, it was about 11 something on Georgia time.
I know my sisters don’t call me late. Our family has a group message set up, we’re sending good morning and good night texts, and we already sent the good night text. I saw my sister calling me and just screaming my name. I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t imagine it would be something like this.
By the time I got the information, I was at Round1 arcade in Atlanta, I was out enjoying myself, but after I got the call, I sat down for a minute trying to process everything because like I said, it felt surreal. I didn’t feel real just trying to process everything. Once I got that, went back, packed some clothes, hit the road and came straight here with my family.
What did Phil represent to you?
He meant a lot. He was more than just a nephew to me. He was like a little brother. He was my guy, my boy. Phil was special, he was all in one.
Everything he went through, was going through, I was there for him. He would call me, no matter the time of the day. He called me “Uncle Trel.” It can be about school, it can be about sports, football, basketball, track, family or relationships, no matter what it was he going through this and going through that, I will be there to give him some encouraging words.
I would tell him all the time, “Phil. Hey, man, if I don’t know, guess what? We’re gonna pray. We’re going to figure it out together,” but he meant way more than just a nephew. Way more than just the athlete. Way more than just a family member to me. He meant a lot to me.
What can we do to support you at this time?
Keep our family in your prayer. Keep everybody just lifted up. The community, the family members that passed away, the ones that are battling right now, the ones who were wounded, and the ones who were in the party as well because you know they’re going through a lot. Those kids saw a lot. They have a lot of trauma they have to live with.