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Victim of fatal Rittenhouse Square stabbing had been a star football player and homecoming king

Dean "Dino" Jordan Jr. played football for Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne and was homecoming king, then graduated from what is now Delaware State University. Over the years, he lived and worked in Philadelphia and California.

Damon Jordan displays a photo on his cellphone showing himself with his brother, Dean (at right), during a visit to Rittenhouse Square on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Dean "Dino" Jordan Jr., 51, was fatally stabbed in the park on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Damon Jordan displays a photo on his cellphone showing himself with his brother, Dean (at right), during a visit to Rittenhouse Square on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019. Dean "Dino" Jordan Jr., 51, was fatally stabbed in the park on Thursday, Nov. 21.Read moreDAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

Standing in Rittenhouse Square, Damon Jordan sifted through photos of his older brother, who was fatally stabbed in the Center City park last week.

“This place is so scary for me right now, because we don’t know who did this,” he said Wednesday of the death of Dean Jordan Jr., 51. “He really loved this area, just being in town, the whole vibe.”

As Jordan, 42, a West Philadelphia educator, walked through the park where police last week found his brother bleeding, he began to cry. “I hate that he was by himself,” said Jordan. “He died by himself.”

Although police initially said Dean was homeless, his brother said he lived with an aunt in the Germantown area.

Nicknamed “Dino,” he had been a star running back with the Penn Wood High School football team and was Homecoming king his senior year.

As a junior in 1984, he rushed for 912 yards and 10 touchdowns, helping his school tie for the Del-Val League championship. A Nov. 11, 1984, Inquirer article reported that “Dino Jordan rushed for three touchdowns and caught a TD pass as visiting Penn Wood secured a share of the Del-Val title,” beating Academy Park by 41-14. “Jordan, who gained 143 yards on only 18 carries, ran for a touchdown in each of the first two periods and posted another pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter.”

He later graduated from Delaware State University, his brother said.

In interviews this week, his family and a friend described him as warmhearted, an outstanding athlete, strong, and proud. They said he had lived in California and Philadelphia, and worked as a real-estate broker, a driver, and a security guard. While living in Southern California, he married and had a daughter and son, both now teens.

At 10:11 p.m. last Thursday, first responders went to the 1800 block of Walnut Street on the park’s north side, following a report of a person screaming. Police found Jordan standing and bleeding profusely, with multiple stab wounds in his back. Medics took him to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:54 p.m.

Detectives have been looking through surveillance videos from streets near the park, but no arrests had been announced as of Wednesday.

Police were seeking to question eight men, who appeared to be in their early 20s, who had been in the park “drinking and fighting” that night, Homicide Capt. Jason Smith said last week. “It is this group of people who are believed to be responsible for the victim’s death," Smith said.

Police and Jordan’s family and friends said they didn’t know what Jordan was doing in the park that night, or what sparked his interaction with the younger men.

Damon Jordan said his brother was first raised by their father in West Philadelphia after Dean’s mother moved to California. “Dino and my father were really close,” his brother said. Dean Jordan Sr. worked as a Philadelphia probation officer from September 1972 to March 2000, when he retired.

In the mid-1970s, Jordan Sr. moved to Southwest Philadelphia after he met Damon’s mother, Carolyn. She raised the boys and their younger sister. Damon Jordan said he gave his brother his nickname. When he was learning to speak, he couldn’t say “Dean” at first, and would say “Deo,” which became “Dino.”

As a child, his older brother played football with the Afro-American Boys’ Club and learned to ride horseback, Damon Jordan said. A grandmother lived in Yeadon, so Dean attended nearby Penn Wood in Lansdowne.

High-school buddy and football teammate Gregory Ciminera, 51, of Thornton, recalled Dean as “a wonderful, warmhearted guy” and an “outstanding athlete.” He was a star running back for the Penn Wood Patriots and the senior year Homecoming king, said Ciminera, who graduated with Dean in 1986.

Damon Jordan recalled his brother as “a good-spirited person” and an “Alpha male jock.”

“He wouldn’t ask for help even if he needed it,” his brother said.

After graduating from Delaware State, Dean moved to Oakland, Calif., to be closer to his mother, said Damon.

In California, he liked to ride motorcycles and go horseback riding, and worked at a law firm and in real estate, he said. He moved back to Philadelphia in 1994, and returned to California four years later, this time to Los Angeles.

While he was in Los Angeles, his father died in July 2000 at age 52 of an illness. “He came back to Philadelphia for the funeral,” Damon Jordan said. “It had an emotional effect on him because he was so close to his father. It weighed on him a lot.”

After a divorce, Dean moved back to Philadelphia in 2008 to help care for a grandmother. He moved into her Powelton Village home. She died that year at age 87.

He continued to live in that house until the family sold it a few years ago, his brother said. He then rented an apartment near Rittenhouse and worked as a chauffeur, security guard, and produce delivery driver.

In late spring, his right leg was injured when he was hit by a car, Damon Jordan said. Dean became unemployed, couldn’t pay his rent, and “fell on hard times,” he said. He then moved in with the aunt in the Germantown area.

Damon recalled speaking to his brother three days before the stabbing. They were making plans to spend Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. Dean, who still had a limp from the accident, said he was still trying to fix his beloved Lincoln Continental.

“That’s what’s so hard," Damon Jordan said. "We’re always together on Thanksgiving.”

Damon Jordan said he is planning a Dec. 7 funeral service for his brother at the Bethel A.M.E. Church in Lansdowne. The time has not been set.