Damon Weaver, child reporter who interviewed Obama, dies at 23

  • >> Allyson Waller, The New York Times
    Published: 2021-05-16 11:39:01 BdST

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At age 11, Damon Weaver interviewed President Barack Obama in the Diplomatic Room of the White House. Samantha Appleton/The White House

Damon Weaver, who at age 11 became one of the youngest people to interview a sitting president and later gained attention for scoring other high-profile interviews with celebrities such as Dwyane Wade and Oprah Winfrey, died May 1. He was 23.

The death was confirmed by Candace Hardy, Weaver’s sister. She told WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach, Florida, that her brother had texted her while she was at work that he was in the hospital. By the time she went to see him, he had already died, she said.

In 2009, Weaver, then 11, conducted a sit-down interview with President Barack Obama in the Diplomatic Room of the White House, questioning him on topics like the Obama administration’s efforts to improve education in lower-income areas such as Weaver’s hometown of Pahokee, Florida, and Obama’s basketball skills.

“You did a great job at this interview, so someone must be doing something right at that school,” Obama told Weaver after the 11-year-old extended an invitation to come visit him at Kathryn E. Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary School in South Florida.

Before his meeting with Obama, Weaver gained sizable attention from an interview in 2008 with Joe Biden, then Obama’s running mate.

Damon Lazar Weaver Jr was born on April 1, 1998, according to his funeral announcement. His sister told WPTV that Weaver was “a light” and “the life of the party.” According to the station, Weaver graduated from high school with a full scholarship to Albany State University in Georgia. He graduated from the university in 2020, according to a post on his Instagram page.

“Everybody just couldn’t wait to be around him,” Hardy told WPTV. “Family gatherings, they were always fun just because of his presence.”

Weaver also covered Obama’s inauguration for his school’s television news program, interviewing attendees and celebrities including Winfrey and Samuel L Jackson. In an interview with The Associated Press before heading to Washington, Weaver highlighted what he enjoyed most about being a reporter.

“I liked seeing people on TV, so I thought that I could do that job one day,” Weaver said. “I like being a reporter because you get to learn a lot of things, you get to meet nice people and you get to travel a lot.”

Weaver said that his favourite subjects in school at the time were reading and math and that he had goals of becoming a journalist one day and maybe even a football player, an astronaut or president.

“I’m very proud of him,” Regina Weaver, Weaver’s mother, told the AP. “I never imagined that this project would go as far as it has gone.”

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