To understand what Damon Davis means to the Cascade Christian football team, just ask the quarterback.
“One of the strongest men I know,” said fellow co-captain Jaelin Goldsmith. “He is an accountability partner. Just strong, like I said, through character and integrity.”
For Davis and the other seven seniors, Saturday morning will be the final time they take the field together in their midnight-blue uniforms as the No. 1 Cougars battle third-ranked Colville for the Class 1A state championship in the Tacoma Dome.
An undersized offensive line but jumbo-sized linebacker at 6-foot, 225 pounds, Davis has 82 tackles, three sacks and has lived a big man’s dream — a 57-yard interception return for a touchdown this season.
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Besides being a special final season with the Cougars, it has been a special year for Davis personally.
Davis’ biological father, Raymond Jones, has gotten to watch him play football for the first time.
“He likes football,” Davis said. “He told me the first game he came to was his first high school football game.”
Damon Davis is the adopted son of Forrest and Kim Davis. In 2002, then 6-year-old Damon and his two siblings — brother, Nathan (7), and sister, Araia (5) — were placed into foster care by the Washington State Department of Social and Healthy Services after their father was sentenced to prison on a murder conviction.
Damon lived in seven different foster homes, and bounced around from school to school. In 2005, he thought he had found an adopted family in Chicago, but was returned after a few months.
The day Damon arrived back at Sea-Tac Airport was the same day Forrest and Kim were meeting with social workers. They had been foster parents for approximately 20 children, even adopting the first one placed with them — Darius. The two also have a daughter together, Abby.
A case worker asked them if they knew of a foster family that would take Damon on an emergency basis, even picking him up at the airport.
“My husband avoided eye contact with me for a few minutes,” Kim said. “My steady glare and eager countenance won out.”
They not only picked Damon up, they eventually adopted him.
Over the years. Damon, 18, has grown from a scared, insecure boy to a confident, bubbly, generous man. He is a leader in his school and at his church. Eventually he wants to become a juvenile counselor.
But Damon also held onto one inquiry: Who were his birth parents?
“Growing up, it was hard for me to see all the kids bring in baby pictures, and I couldn’t,” Damon said. “I wanted to see where I came from — what my dad looked like, what my mother looked like and what my sister looked like.”
He finally got his chance last year. After his junior football season concluded, Araia contacted him on Facebook. The two began reconnecting.
Before last summer, Araia mentioned to Damon that she had also been in contact with their father, who had since been released from prison. They do not have any contact with their biological mother.
Araia said she could set up a meeting between Damon and Jones.
Damon, Forrest and Kim sat down to discuss the idea. Ultimately, they let Damon decide if he wanted to meet Jones.
“They said, ‘It is up to you. You’re old enough, but we are going to guide you,’ ” Damon said.
A dinner was arranged at Famous Dave’s in Tacoma. Damon did not pull any punches right from the get-go.
“He asked, ‘Where have you been?’ ” Kim Davis recalled. “And then he asked, ‘Did you kill somebody?’ Raymond shared his side of it, and ended up explaining things as a precautionary tale. That is when Damon’s eyes grew the size of dinner plates.”
Since then, they’ve continued to communicate.
“It is weird, because my real brother (Nathan) has come up here to meet my real sister. And they had been talking about staying with (Jones),” Damon Davis said. “I can’t do that. I love my family too much. I have a great family. They have raised me.”
Davis said Jones understands that fully, and “is not too pushy” with making contact.
“He waits for me to initiate it with text messages and stuff,” Davis said.
Before Cascade Christian’s Senior Night final home game against Bellevue Christian, the Davis’ approached Jones and asked if he would accompany them on the field when Damon was introduced at Sunset Chev Stadium.
“That was a cool experience,” Damon Davis said.
Added Jones: “It was awesome. Beautiful.”
Davis said he receives texts from Jones thanking him for a second chance. Jones will be at the Tacoma Dome on Saturday morning to watch the 1A title game.
“Damon has this peace about him now,” Kim Davis said. “It has given him a little bit of closure.”