tv Nightline ABC October 5, 2019 12:37am-1:07am PDT
this is "nightline." tonight, home field advantage. a remarkable rebirth for one high school football team after their season was cut short by the worst wildlife in california's history. >> it was devastating. it was just like, it's heartbreaking as it gets. >> now the fight of their lives to rebuild and return home. >> people always say you don't miss something until it's gone. i love that community with everything. triumphant return.age for a plus, gesture of grace. the teen behind the forgiving embrace of his brother's killer.
good evening. thanks for joining us. the town of paradise, california was nearly destroyed after the state's deadliest fire last year, displacing nearly 30,000 residents, including its championship high school football team. here's espn's tom ranoldi with their remarkable come back story. >> reporter: alone, atop a ridge in the sierra nevadas, paradise, california. >> a hidden, beautiful spot that people don't really know about. you're in the mountains. it's cooler. it's a great, small-town feel. >> reporter: in 1999, rick prinze took over the football program at paradise high. under prinze, the paradise bobcats would become one of the top teams in the region. their home field became the
place no team wanted to visit but where every boy in town wanted to play. >> my first football game i went to was in third grade. i showed up and got skittles and a gatorade from the snack bar and sat in the end zone. >> reporter: in 2018, paradise went 8-22 in the regular seaso. they had a chance to add to their trophy case. >> we knew we going to be good, 100%, going into the playoffs. everyone was feeling the same way. i don't think we could have been stopped. >> reporter: november 8, 2018. the day of the first playoff game for paradise. >> i woke up, i took my son to school. and i saw the smoke. and then the sky changed. and it's hard to describe. the sun went out. and everything around us turned
red. >> fire rescue. >> hello? i'm calling about fire and smoke and orange glow in the sky. >> my place is completely on fire. completely surrounded by flames >> there's a fire in my yard. >> it's everywhere, it's a major fire. >> first thought. my first thought, i said it, get out! get in the car and go. >> reporter: just after 8:00 a.m., in near pitch-darkness, the entire town of paradise was ordered to evacuate. >> we have fire everywhere, all over paradise right now. mandatory evacuations are in effect for all of paradise. >> reporter: thousands at the same time were now trying to escape down the hill from paradise to nearby chico. many by a single road. >> dark as midnight. it's 9:30 in the morning. you could hear the fire just
bearing down. >> it looked like hell. i thought i was going to die. >> reporter: at what point did you feel like we're clear? >> once we got past the paradise sign, which was already on fire. >> reporter: by the time it began to slow that night, the camp fire, as it would be called, would be the most destructive wildlife in california history. 153,000 acres burned. 18,000 structures ruined. 86 lives lost. >> everything burned. everything was gone. >> reporter: how many players and coaches were impacted and touched by the fire? >> well, all of them. all but three players lost their
homes. and all but two coaches lost their homes. we had a game. that night. playoff game. >> reporter: what ultimately did you decide? >> we decided to end the season. >> the one thing that i was afraid of in that moment was that i don't ever want to be not going to paradise high school. and it was like, that's all i could think about was things will never be the same. >> reporter: though the fire was over, paradise' journey had just begun. all 27,000 residents of paradise were displaced from their homes. due health and safety concerns, it would be weeks before they were even allowed to come back to assess the damage. >> this was our
these are all retaining walls. every retaining wall burnt. it just had to rage through here. >> just heartbreak, you know. it was devastating. it was just like as heartbreaking as it gets. >> reporter: in january, when school resumed, classes were held in a warehouse in chico, 19 miles away. enrollment, once nearly 1,000 students fell by more than half. >> they're spread out all over the place. we even have families going to texas. we are displaced all over this nation right now. >> reporter: lucas hartley began taking his classes online, allowing him to work 40 hours a week at an auto salvage yard to help his family pay rent on an
apartment. >> four months ago i was just a high school kid, went to school every single day. and now it's like i have to work a full-time job, take online classes and stuff, because things are just different now. i mean a lot of what i do is just grunt work, like just, youu know. >> reporter: what keeps you going? >> football. i guess. there's not too much, you know. >> reporter: yet, for all that was lost on november 8, 2018, one piece of paradise remained virtually untouched. >> here we are at our stadium. it looks pretty normal. you can see some burning right
over here, up that hill. you can see where the fire went around over there by the burn on the trees. >> reporter: somehow paradise high and its home field were in tact. the prospects for a football season in 2019, how do you describe them? >> we're going to have one. >> reporter: why? why does it matter? >> i want to make sure that the kids that come to our school have a football program that they can be proud of. >> reporter: and so the boys from paradise would begin their odyssey. >> you have about ten minutes a station. >> reporter: hoping to reach the new season. training in the warehouse and on a field outside. >> jacob duncan, you here?
>> reporter: they started with just 22 varsity players. >> this journey that we're going to go on, we're not going out there for no participation awards. >> reporter: their goal? to be able to play their opening game at home in paradise. >> a punch, john, get that shoulder. >> good. >> reporter: early august, three weeks before opening night, coaches and players gathered. they learned they could play again in paradise. >> there's been a lot of changes, a lot of things going on, but we're still going to put on our helmets. we're going to put on our shoulder pads, and we're going to rock people, and if we're a little bit angry about our situation, all the better. >> reporter: captain lucas hartley addressed the team. >> i just want to say this game's been like super heartbreaking for me, because last year i thought after the
fire and everything i thought it would be the last season i played for paradise high, and believe it or not, it made me so happy to knowly an opportunity to come out here and play with you guys. every single one of these guys on this team, i have a memory with you, and it means so much to me. i'm serious. it breaks my heart so much knowing it's my last year playing with you guys. i'm sorry. i love you guys. >> we -- are-number -- one! >> dear heavenly father, thank you for this day. thank you for allowing us to come together and keep this tradition of paradise football alive. >> they thought were you down. they thought you were wea tig back yokn what i got to say to that? hell no! >> reporter: nine months, two
weeks and one day after their season was ended by the camp fire, the boys fmpa return field. to that patch of soil they call "home." >> hartley, number 20. >> reporter: they played for more than a win. they played for a chance to show the 5,000 in attendance what had risen from the ashes. >> people always say you don't miss something till it's gone, and then you miss it like hell. i love that community with everything. >> here's what i pray for you tonight, that you started a hali healing that's going to continue through the rest of the season. dog gone it, you guys have been through so much. this feels great!
>> you should know, paradise high won that game. if you want to watch a longer version of the story go to espn plus and search under "e 60". one young man's gesture of grace touching lives. he talks about that emotional moment in an exclusive interview. performance comes in lots of flavors. there's the amped-up, over-tuned, feeding-frenzy-of sheet-metal-kind. and then there's performance that just leaves you feeling better as a result. that's the kind lincoln's about. ♪ so nice to meet you june, jay, ji, kay, raj, and... ray! good job, brain! say hello to neuriva, a new brain supplement with clinically proven ingredients that fuel five indicators of brain performance. neuriva.
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fixfinity internet and mobile, each for $30 a month. that equals awesome wifi from america's best internet provider and the best lte on the go. it's the ultimate coverage solution. it's all in the numbers. with xfinity mobile, you'll save up to $800 a year on your wireless bill. you can even get $250 back. don't miss out on xfinity internet and mobile, each for $30 a month. plus, save up to $800 a year on your wireless bill with xfinity mobile. xfinity makes saving... simple. easy. awesome. click, call, or visit a store today. it was the hug that touched so many hearts this week. the young man now speaking out in an abc news exclusive interview, along with the jurors, why they found a former police officer guilty of murder. here's abc's marcus moore.
>> if you truly eare sorry, i know i can speak for myself. i, i forgive you. i want the best for you. that's exactly what botham would want for you. >> reporter: it was a simple gesture of compassion that moved the world. >> can i give her a hug, please? >> yes. >> reporter: 18-year-old brant jean embracing the woman found guilty of murdering his older brother botham. this morning, brant speaking to abc news for the first time about that remarkable moment of grace. >> i just told her that i forgave her. that was just my gesture of letting her know that i truly forgive her. >> reporter: his sympathy towards his brother's killer palpable. >> she is a human being. she still deserves love. she made a mistake that she probably truly regrets. >> reporter: just last friday, amber guyger finally apologized
for her deadly actions. >> i was scared, and i'm so sorry. >> i waited one year to hear "i'm sorry." and i'm grateful for that. and it's, that's why i forgive her. >> reporter: although a beautiful moment, it did not resonate with everyone in the courtroom. some demanding a harsher sentence. >> 25-99. there is no justice for a man life to be taken and she gets ten years! >> no justice, no peace! >> reporter: a rallying cry amplified since last september. >> no justice, no peace! >> reporter: when amber guyger entered botham jean's apartment mistaking it for her own and shooting and killing the 22-year-old accountant. the former dallas police officer demonstrated how she confronted him. >> i have my gun pointed. and i'm saying, let me see your hands, let me see your hands. >> reporter: through tears, guyger told jurors how much she
regretted her actions. >> i never wanted to take an inch sin innocent person's life, and i am so sorry. >> it was very emotional, and i think that is something the defense obviously wanted the jury to see. >> reporter: but prosecutors tried to place doubt, playing the chilling body cam footage from officers who responded. several immediately start cpr. something prosecutors say guyger did not do. >> did you properly perform cpr on mr. jean. >> no, i did not. >> you could have, right? >> i tried to do cpr. >> reporter: they found her gill any less than five hours. the prosecution asked for 28 years but she was sentenced to just ten. two jurors speaking with abc news about their decision. >> they were asking us to take an eye for an eye for botham, and i feel like he isn't someone who would take an eye for an
eye. he would turn the other cheek. >> i know a lot of people aren't happy about the ten years, but i feel like you can't compare this case to any of those other officers killing unarmed black men. those officers that kill unarmed black men, when they got out, they went back to livin' they y killed that man, she has not been the same. >> i hate myself, every single day. i don't feel like i deserve a chance to be with my family and friends. >> reporter: i have covered the case for more than a year and was curious to figure out how the case had impacted the jurors' lives. >> i have never been through the emotional wringer as much as i have the last week and a half. it made me understand life a little more. >> it made me want to be more family involved, forgive people more, heal from things people have brought us through. it's not meant for us to be perfect. >> we should focus more on love
and the positive stuff and not on the hate. >> reporter: that message of grace that brant delivered, channeling his brother's spirit with a simple act. >> this is what you have to do to set yourself free. i didn't really plan on living the rest of my life hating this woman. i know that there's something called peace of mind. that is why i wake up happy in the morning. that is why i want to live happy. >> our thanks to marcus for that report. up next, remembering pioneering actress, diahann carroll. they left his nose raw, with each wiping motion. so dad extinguished the problem, with new puffs plus lotion. puffs now have more lotion to soothe through the blows... and more pillowy softness, to cushion your nose. don't get burned by ordinary tissues.
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and the best lte everywhere else. xfinity mobile is a different kind of wireless network designed to save you money. switch and save hundreds a year on your wireless bill. plus get $250 back when you buy an eligible phone. call, click, or visit a store today. finally, remembering the incomparable diahann carroll. beloved and barrier-breaking, oscar-nominated actress diahann carroll starred in "julia", which tir ti the lif blackemale professional, also drawing in fans of devereaux.
she died in los angeles of cancer. she was 84. what an inspiration. and this programming note for you. this weekend we invite you to watch a "nightline" documentary short on one of the most popular deejays in the world. >> do you every see these kinds of performances becoming your reality? >> no, definitely not. >> that's 48 hours with
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