Mauled to Death by a Pit Bull, Adonis Reddick Was Still Nobody's Victim

Adonis Reddick, left, in a moment of victory.
Adonis Reddick, left, in a moment of victory. COURTESY THE ARC OF THE UNITED STATES

Traces of Adonis Reddick's battles fill the house on the hill.

There's the trophy he carried home from a national convention in 2015. Pictures of the daughter and granddaughter no one expected him to have. Fliers for organizations he built so others would learn to fight alongside him.

And, on a southern window, a darker memento of his last battle: flecks of dog blood spattered across a low-hanging shade.

The house itself — a three-bedroom, three-bathroom in Spanish Lake with a sunroom that looks out over a backyard ringed with trees — is a testament to the victories he notched against long odds.

Adonis ignored relatives who worried the home was too big and too much responsibility for a man with his physical limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, he was about five feet four inches tall and weighed maybe 115 pounds. He walked with halting, jerky steps and struggled so hard to form words, his speech was sometimes impenetrable to strangers. But he also possessed a steely will and a tactician's wit, sharpened by sarcastic humor.

At any rate, Adonis wasn't asking permission to buy a house. He was buying a house. He quietly negotiated the real estate deal himself and moved in six years ago, bringing with him his teenage daughter.

Upon learning of the purchase, his father, Aaron Reddick, remembers asking what Adonis needed him to do.

"Nothing," Adonis told him, the word emerging slowly but full of a mischievous pride. "Dad, you taught me well."

It was Adonis' father and brother who found the 45-year-old dead on May 9, laid out on his tile floor after he was mauled by a pit bull he'd taken in. The death was gruesome and shocking, and the comment sections on news stories soon unwound in arguments over dangerous dogs. Adonis was seen as defenseless or foolish, rendered by his disability incapable of understanding the peril of inviting a dangerous animal into his home.

But the assumption that Adonis was a victim who didn't know any better seemed ridiculous to those who knew him well.

"That's what bothers me about the reaction to the dog story — like he didn't have any sense," says Adonis' friend Christopher Worth. "That's bull crap. He was a strategist."

click to enlarge Adonis Reddick's home -- and the scene of his death. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
Adonis Reddick's home -- and the scene of his death.
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