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‘Such a Gifted Young Man’: Damon Weaver, Kid Journalist Who Went Viral for Interviewing President Obama, Oprah and Others Dies at 23

The young man who gained national attention for landing an interview with then-President Barack Obama in 2009 has died at the age of 23.

Damon Weaver was only 11 years old when he sat down with President Obama on August 11, 2009, to chat about issues that were important to the children of America. During their conversation, the two discussed educational issues, including school lunches (with Weaver suggesting “French fries and mangoes”), bullying and what kids can do to make the country a better place.

Damon Weaver’s death was confirmed by his sister on Thursday, May 13. Photo Credit: Damon Weaver/Facebook

“It was a one-in-a-lifetime experience,” his sister, Candace Hardy, said in a story in The Palm Beach Post. “That’s the only way to describe it. … It was life-changing for him.” After his viral interview with Obama, Weaver went on to interview other high profile celebrities including Dwyane Wade, Oprah Winfrey, Samuel Jackson and others.

Weaver passed away from natural causes, according to Hardy.

The aspiring sports journalist graduated from Royal Palm Beach High School in 2016, then Albany State University in 2020, with plans to return to school in the fall to continue his education in communication with hopes of covering the NFL.

Weaver previously credited his elementary school teacher Brian Zimmerman with helping foster his interest in journalism and to land him the interview with Obama and now-President Joe Biden, who served as vice president at the time. “Mr. Zimmerman thought that I’d be good on the school news crew. So he [got] me to go do a report about Joe Biden. It was my first interview,” Weaver told Time in 2009.

“Damon was the kid who ran after me in the hall to tell me he was interested,” Zimmerman told The Palm Beach Post in a 2016 interview. “And right away, I just saw the potential for the way he was on camera. You could see his personality come through. He wasn’t nervous being on camera.”

“He was loved by everyone,” Hardy told the newspaper. “No matter if it was a stranger, his mom or a family member, he was just a ball of light with so much energy. He was always positive, always had a smile on a face and he was always a joy to be around. He left an impact on a lot of people.” 

News of Weaver’s passing struck a lot of viewers who remembered watching his interview. Many returned to a Youtube clip of the interview to offer their condolences.

One viewer wrote, “It saddened me to hear this young man has died, that is the reason I watched this video. Such a gifted young man.”

“Hopefully, this video will inspire young people to do amazing things… R.I.P. young man. 💜,” added another.

“Rest in Power, little dude. You lived more years in your short life than most ever will,” wrote another.

Weaver’s celebration of life was held Friday May 14, at St. John First Baptist Church in Belle Glade, Florida. 

At the time of this writing, President Obama has not responded to the news.

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