Laterria Smith breaks silence; dance school scholarship honors son killed defending her from attack

Gus Giordano Dance School in Andersonville launches the Jayden Perkins Memorial Scholarship in his honor

Friday, May 17, 2024
Mom of boy killed defending her from stabbing attack breaks silence
Laterria Smith spoke exclusively with ABC7 2 months after her son Jayden Smith was killed defending her from a stabbing attack in Edgewater. There is now a dance scholarship in his

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two months ago, Laterria Smith lost her 11-year-old son Jayden Perkins as he tried to protect her and her unborn child from a vicious attack. They were both stabbed; Smith survived, while her son was killed.

Perkins would have turned 12 this month, but his mother, his fellow dancers and his teachers say his spirit lives on. Thursday night, Smith attended a performance to mark the establishment of a scholarship in Perkins' name at the Gus Giordano Dance School in Andersonville.

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She said it was his safe haven, his temple. It felt like Perkins was in the room as his troupe-mates performed some of his favorite dances with the same grace and beauty that radiated from his every move.

"It just touches me. It touches me because, like, I don't want to cry, but my son means everything to me," Smith said. "I'm doing good. I'm doing good. I am because my son is with me at all times, and he's watching over me."

WATCH: Laterria Smith extended interview about son Jayden Perkins

"I'm doing good. I am because my son is with me at all times, and he's watching over me."

The night of light and love stood in stark contrast with the darkness of that March day in Edgewater when police said Perkins was stabbed to death protecting his mother from an alleged serial domestic abuser who just got out of prison.

READ MORE: Man kills boy, injures woman in Edgewater stabbing day after being released on parole, officials say

Smith said there will be another time to talk about the case; Thursday night was about Jayden's true legacy: a memorial scholarship in his name.

"For any child who's passionate about dancing or wants to move forward in dancing, and like they don't really have the funds for it, this scholarship will really help them," she said.

READ MORE | Jayden Perkins death: Family wants to change how domestic violence parole cases handled

Perkins began dancing when he was eight, thanks to a dance scholarship from the Gus Legacy Foundation. The videos and memories of his time in the studio gives his mother comfort.

"I love the videos. I can't stop watching them," she said. "Especially when he was singing Michael Jackson."

"And he knew he was going to make it, would've succeeded. He practiced every day at home, singing, dancing, and I would just hear his beautiful voice, like baby you've got it," Smith added.

Now one of Perkins' best friends has become the first recipient of the Jayden Perkins Memorial Scholarship. His mother offered hugs and gratitude.

"I just hear him now, how happy he is," she said. "And that for me, as his mom, to not give up. To keep going. To keep going and do everything I can for all the other kids."

The Gus Giordano Dance School is currently taking donations for Jayden's scholarship, which they hope annually to grant to a new recipient.

Crosetti Brand is charged with his murder, and with Smith's attempted murder. He had been released from prison on parole just hours before the attack, and Smith had filed an order of protection not long before that. Police would only say the two had a relationship about 15 years ago, and declined to provide any more details.

Brand has pleaded not guilty to all charges.