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

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click to enlarge Adonis Reddick celebrates with Sharon Spurlock and Stephanie Scott (far right) after winning the Self Advocate of the Year award at The Arc of the United States 2015 national convention. - COURTESY THE ARC OF THE UNITED STATES
  • Adonis Reddick celebrates with Sharon Spurlock and Stephanie Scott (far right) after winning the Self Advocate of the Year award at The Arc of the United States 2015 national convention.

There is a video online of a great moment in Adonis' life.

He was in Indianapolis for the 2015 national convention for the Arc of the United States. After two years of organizing activists, writing letters and launching campaigns to change policies at McDonald's, MetroLink and St. Louis County, Adonis was on hand to accept that year's Self Advocate of the Year Catalyst Award.

He spent the weekend introducing himself to one person after another, shaking dozens of hands. Sharon Spurlock, director of family support for St. Louis Arc, says he was a natural networker.

"He probably collected a hundred business cards," she says.

On the night of the awards ceremony, Spurlock and Stephanie Scott of St. Louis Arc introduced Adonis and then invited him to the stage. He strode to the microphone, his feet still turning inward with each step, his arms floating away from his sides for balance.

"Wow!" he said.

Spurlock and Scott stepped to the side as everyone in the room focused on Adonis.

"I want you to close your eyes," he instructed the audience. "Tell me what you see."

Any answers are lost in the recording, but Adonis pushed on. "Now open your eyes," he said. "Tell me what you see."

He scanned the audience. He was acting this out with them, closing his eyes, springing them back open.

"Close your eyes one more time and tell me what you see," he said. "Now when you open your eyes, realize that you can put in and take out whatever you want in this world."

A medical examination confirmed Milow killed Adonis, police say. No one knows what set him off.

"All we know is the dog got at him, and we don't know why," Aaron Reddick says. "We'll probably never know."

Animal Control officers removed the other dog, the German shepherd mix, from the house without any trouble. They kept her for 29 days, but she was ultimately euthanized when Adonis' family didn't claim her.

Now there are two empty dog crates at Adonis' house. Danielle moved back after the funeral, her baby in tow, and she plans to hold onto the place, because that's what her father would have wanted. It's sometimes creepy walking through the big house, so she invites her boyfriend and her half-brother to come stay.

"Sometimes I'm emotional, but sometimes I'm happy for my dad because he's in a better place," Danielle says. "He's not struggling anymore. He's not stressing anymore."

One of the most tragic things about Adonis' death, friends and relatives say, is that he had just begun to come into his own as an organizer. All those battles won and lessons learned coalesced when he found his calling as an activist.

"You could spot the leadership in him," fellow Coalition for Truth in Independence activist Denise Patterson says. People cried at the group's first meeting without him.

Christopher Worth, organizing team manager for Paraquad, saw Adonis as a kindred spirit. The two drew parallels between Worth's hard-nosed childhood in West Virginia and Adonis' pitiless upbringing in metro St. Louis. And they both saw activism by people with disabilities as part of the larger battle for social justice across society, although they sometimes clashed over the best methods.

"We fought a lot, but fighting was good," he says. "Healthy fighting was very good. I saw him transform in front of my eyes."

Adonis was a revolutionary and a strategist, Worth says. He assessed risks and took bold but calculated action to solve important problems. In that final fight, Worth sees a friend who took on all challenges, even when no one thought he could win.

"Adonis took that dog in because he thought he could tame the world."

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