Anjanette Albert says her son would be a high school senior applying for college right now if a fight hadn't broken out one year ago. Thursday, she invited ABC7 into her home to talk about Derrion, his dreams, and the violence that continues to claim young lives.
The past twelve months have done little to ease Anjanette Albert's pain.
"I wish he was here," she said tearfully, a mother's whisper that couldn't be more clear.
Derrion Albert was just 16 years old, an honors student at Fenger Academy, when he was caught in a brawl between rival groups of kids. His beating death, in full view of others, was caught on video and viewed across the world.
"I've never seen it," the boy's mother said. "But if he didn't videotape that, then I don't know where we would be right now."
The video led investigators to five teenagers who are now charged in Derrion's death.
The mother says, in the past year, she's attended all their court dates.
"I think they're scared. They're just kids, but I can't help them. There's nothing I can do," she said "Because I have to make sure justice is served for my son."
Derrion Albert's death was held up as a wake-up call to the city's violence problem. But in the past year, similar violence has killed dozens of other CPS students.
"It's sad because these are our children, and they need something to make them realize that you can't do this," Anjanette Albert said.
Still, the woman's 12-year-old daughter remains in a Chicago public school. For her, and for Derrion, the mother struggles to move forward.
"I think he'd just want us to be okay, to know that he's okay," she said.
Derrion Albert would have turned 18 years old this school year. His mother says he had talked about wanting to go to law school one day.
This weekend, Ms. Albert plans to attend an anti-violence rally at St. Sabina church. She says she continues to hope, despite the violence, that people will learn something from Derrion's death.