“His life is my fight.”
Words by Carmen Macri
On Jan. 26, 2017, the world stopped moving for Latasha Hobbs when she lost her 18-year-old son, Maurice Hobbs, to a fatal gunshot wound. For six years, this case has run cold. For six years, Latasha has fought tirelessly for gun safety and education. For six years, Latasha has been trying to navigate through her grief while still fighting for her son’s life, fighting for her daughters’ lives and fighting to stay afloat.
On the night of Jan. 26, only two days after Maurice’s 18th birthday, Latasha was driving through Southside Estates to pick her son up from a friend’s house. On the way, Latasha approached a fork in the road. Not knowing where to turn, she called her son for directions. After a quick phone call and an exchange of “I love yous,” Latasha turned right. Soon after, she heard a gunshot. At that very moment, Latasha had no doubt in her mind, she knew who was in front of the gun. She called her son repeatedly but to no avail. Maurice was shot and killed only a few blocks from his mother.
“I felt something that I had never felt before,” Latasha explained. “I believe at the moment of his harm, what I couldn’t identify at that time, I now know. At that very moment is when he began to live through me.”
A painfully beautiful moment shared between a mother and a son whose bond is so powerful it transcends the physical world. Something that is not meant to be explained or described. Something solely for Latasha and Maurice.
When Latasha lost her only son, rather than letting the gut-wrenching grief and suffering take over, she found purpose in her pain. She used it to push herself forward. She knew her son would want her to fight back, to fight the horrific gun violence that continues to go unaddressed in Jacksonville (and around the country.)
“I didn’t have a choice to walk this journey,” Latasha continued. “But I do have the choice to make a difference. I owe justice and change to my son.”
Latasha wasted no time hitting the streets of Jacksonville advocating for gun safety education. She found herself in high-crime neighborhoods talking to youths and their parents, praying she can prevent another family from embarking on the journey she now finds herself on. She has attended City Council meetings and rallies and has poured her heart out at the State Capitol.
When you ask her why she does it? The answer is simple. For love. For the unwavering love, she has for her three children. For her grandsons and nephews. For the families who have gone through similar tragedies. For the strangers she meets every day. Latasha is driven by love, a mother’s love.
“[A mother’s love] is something magical and indescribable,” Latasha said. “It’s a bond between a mother and a child that can never be severed. It’s endless. My son lives and breathes through me.”
Many of Latasha’s friends tell her, “There are mothers who love their children and then there’s you.” A mother who will never stop fighting. A mother who lost her son but didn’t lose her way. Someone who needed to be there for her two grieving daughters while trying to grieve herself.
Kienna Hobbs was only 15 years old when she lost her big brother; Chyann Hobbs was 19. There are no words in the English language to describe the feeling of losing a brother or son, but the Hobbs family was in this together. They had each other to lean on for support. In the shock of it all, when Latasha was broken and lost, Chyann became the glue that held the family together. She pushed for her mother to get up and fight back, which is exactly what Latasha did.
“I love my children with every fiber of my being. When you’re a mom, you no longer live for yourself, you live and breathe for your kids,” Latasha explained. “But this journey doesn’t come with a guide or a manual. You don’t know what to expect. You don’t know how each member of your family is going to manage their own pain. You just have to love each other through it. It’s a very forgiving journey. You have to be willing to forgive.”
Latasha believes the bond between her and her son is so powerful because of a heartbreaking experience they shared in the early years of Maurice’s life. Something no person wishes to go through, let alone a mother with her three children.
In 2004, the unspeakable happened. Being a single mother of three, Latasha had become a target for a home invasion, and to Latasha’s dismay, the man who broke in was no stranger to the family. During the horrific incident, Latasha was tied up, sexually assaulted and brutally beaten; all while her three children were hiding inside the house. She believed this was her time, that there was nothing she could do to escape her fate, that is, until 3-year-old Maurice came charging at the grown man with a kitchen fork in hand screaming for him to get off his mommy. Seeing her baby boy show such bravery triggered something inside of her. With the perpetrator’s hands still around her neck (and distracted by Maurice’s appearance), she managed to wrangle herself out from under him and yelled for her daughters to call the police.
“I think at that point when I had no more air, my children’s lives started to flash before my eyes. At that moment, this power came over me. I was able to break free from my ties and I was able to fight back.”
Latasha thinks of this moment when she is out advocating for gun safety. She thinks of her hero Maurice when she is fighting for his justice. She thinks of her two daughters who have to live in a world where gun violence robbed them of their brother and the mother they once knew.
“I’m still here,” Latasha explained. “I just want them [Kienna and Chyann] to know how much I love them. The connection we have is infinite. I know I put a lot of time and effort into Maurice, but I am a forever mom of three. The love I have for my daughters and my son will last to infinity and beyond.”