Keanon Lowe, the football coach at Northeast Portland's Parkrose High School who embraced a student who brought a gun to school, disarming him, is again being recognized for his heroic actions. Lowe was awarded the Citizen Honor Award by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
In a statement released last week, the society said the former Oregon Ducks wide receiver was one of six individual recipients of the award, which is given to civilians who "exemplify the values embodied in the Medal of Honor: courage, sacrifice, commitment, integrity, citizenship and patriotism."
Lowe was working as a football coach and security guard at the high school in Portland when 18-year-old Angel Diaz entered a classroom where Lowe was talking with a substitute teacher. Lowe reportedly tackled Diaz before he harmed anyone and held the student in a bearhug until authorities arrived. Surveillance video of the incident showed Lowe's compassionate embrace as he disarmed the student and handed the firearm to the substitute teacher. The video quickly went viral, prompting many to praise the football coach's quick-thinking and empathetic actions.
In an interview with KGW shortly after the incident, Lowe said that in the moment, he felt compassion for Diaz.
"I had a real life conversation. Obviously, he broke down and I wanted him to know I was there for him. I told him I was there to save him, I was there for a reason, and this is a life worth living," Lowe said.
Diaz was later sentenced to three years of probation and mental health treatment for bringing a weapon to school. Lowe went on to coach the high school football team to its first playoff win last season at Parkrose and is now the head football coach at West Linn High School.
The ceremony for honorees has been postponed indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic, the society said in a release about the award.