Football brings some peace to Sioux family after suicide

For two brothers on a South Dakota football team, winning a title this year brought a moment of peace following the death of their older brother to suicide

VERMILLION, S.D. -- As siblings Jashawn and Jayton Pease embraced in the end zone while celebrating their tribal school’s All Nations Conference championship win, tears streamed down their faces for the older brother who wasn’t there.

The July 2018 suicide of 17-year-old J’von Justice Shields, who also played for the Crow Creek Chieftains, illustrated an all too common tragedy in Native American communities, where the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds is more than triple that of any other racial and ethnic group in the country.

This football season became a source of pride for the Crow Creek Sioux community and an opportunity for Jayton and Jashawn to achieve their brother’s dream of winning at “The Dome” in Vermillion, where football championships are decided.