You are here

2021 Award of Valor: Jaimire Dutrieuille

Former Slippery Rock football student-athlete saved child from shooting

On May 28, 2019, Jaimire Dutrieuille was on the front porch of a friend’s house in Braddock, Pennsylvania, with his friend, an infant and a 9-year-old girl, when gunshots rang out. Dutrieuille, a former college football player at Slippery Rock, shielded the girl with his body, taking three bullets in the process. His friend was able to get the baby safely inside.

With a gunshot wound to the head, Dutrieuille was rushed to a hospital, where doctors saved him. Other than vision problems from a bullet that struck an optic nerve, he made a full recovery. Dutrieuille, however, doesn’t want anyone to feel sorry for him because the incident provided him with the chance to improve his community.

“It’s actually a dream come true, honestly, to become a community figure, because I have always wanted to see better things happen for my community,” said Dutrieuille, while reflecting on what his life has been like since the shooting happened.

Dutrieuille’s act of bravery has earned him the NCAA Award of Valor, presented to someone who, when confronted with a situation involving personal danger, averted or minimized potential disaster by a courageous action. He will be presented the award at the 2021 NCAA Convention.

Dutrieuille’s hometown of Braddock was “not the best area to grow up in, a very poverty-stricken and crime-ridden place,” he said. He now uses his platform to work with youths in the area. He serves as a mentor in Team Braddock, a program he participated in growing up that provides kids in the community a safe haven through sports, specifically football and basketball.

“We focus on those sports mainly as a way to keep the kids busy, but we also help them with their homework, make sure they are staying up with their school. And we also check in with their parents, to make sure things are good at home, and that they are staying up on everything they need to,” Dutrieuille said.

If it weren’t for programs like Team Braddock, Dutrieuille may not have had the chance to attend Slippery Rock, where he had “an amazing experience” as a student-athlete. Dutrieuille described the close-knit, family-like culture that his football team had and how that culture showed itself when he was recovering in the hospital, with old teammates checking in on him every day.

As he recovered from the incident, his former coach, George Mihalik, worked with Dutrieuille to get back into school and finish his degree, as he was only a few classes and an internship away from completion.

“He always said the goal when you left Slippery Rock was for you to have your degree in one hand and some championship rings on the other hand. I got my rings, but I just needed that degree. So he helped to make sure that could happen,” Dutrieuille said.

Dutrieuille will graduate from Slippery Rock with a degree in safety management this month. He is looking forward to continuing his work in the community with Team Braddock while also pursuing his career goals and becoming a safety manager.