"You've got to redeem yourselves," Charles "Wayne" Baldwin used to tell the boys on his after-school football team when they messed up or broke down in tears of frustration.
He used the phrase often. Enough that whenever the boys think of their coach, they will hear him saying it. Telling them to stop feeling sorry for themselves, to learn from their mistakes and try again.
But the concept of redemption surely has become more complicated, and harder to comprehend, for the children who loved and respected Baldwin. Last Friday, he was killed when a stray bullet pierced his second-floor bedroom window and struck him in the head as he was getting dressed to go to work.
In a city with a blistering homicide rate, and more than 100 homicides so far this year, Baldwin's death stood out - both by its random nature and location. He lived at 58th and Pine Streets, a middle-class neighborhood unused to such violence.
"If you're not safe in your own home, you're not safe anywhere," Russell Grady said as he stood on the porch of his friend Baldwin's house, where petunias bloomed in the window box and the street was so peaceful, you could hear the high-pitched plinking of silver wind chimes.
No arrest has been made in the case. Funeral services were held yesterday for Baldwin at the First Baptist Church of Paschall at 70th Street and Woodland Avenue.
"He was a good coach," 13-year-old Rhafeeq Smith said in a small voice, compressed by the weight of loss. Rhafeeq and his friend Marcel "Boomie" Stewart, 12, had stopped by to make a condolence visit to Baldwin's fiancee, April Brown. They gathered in the kitchen, talking about the big man they called "Mr. Wayne."
Politely declining her offers of food, the boys recalled playing football on the street after school last year and looking up to see this 6-foot, 250-pound grown-up smiling down at them.
"He shook my hand and said, 'Hello, young boy,' and asked, 'Would you like to play for the West Philly Tarheels?' " said Rhafeeq, who became quarterback for the city recreation team.
The street was known as one of the safest around, said Brown, who grew up in the house she had shared with Baldwin for the last two years.
They had planned their wedding for May 26 at the Calvary Baptist Church, she said.
The father of four, the youngest of whom is 13, Baldwin had worked for the Philadelphia Housing Authority since 1994. He also ran a small company, Big Man Security, and was planning to invest in a self-service laundry, said his best friend, Gerald Hunley Sr.
"He was the kind of friend you wish you had," said Hunley. A regular churchgoer, he had recently hurt his back moving out old pews to make way for new ones, then enlisted one of his sons to help finish the job. Baldwin was also a senior deacon in the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge.
"We tried to make things safe for kids," said his friend Rodney Koger. "Wayne liked to keep things in order. Discipline was important."
"Football and kids is something you just can't tear him away from," said Brown. "He's just such a wonderful person." Still dazed by the events of the last week, she could not bring herself to switch to the past tense when talking about Baldwin.
Baldwin, 42, was born near Myrtle Beach, S.C., and moved to North Philadelphia when he was young.
He and Brown met five years ago at Steve's Sports Lounge at 53d and Market Streets. Brown, 44, a supervisor for a security firm, used to go there on Friday nights to shoot pool and relax after work. Baldwin was moonlighting as a bouncer. "You know how you meet a guy, and they're like, ooh!? We just knew. We fit so well."
He was a gifted dancer, she said, although he didn't take himself too seriously. "You don't want to see him do his stripper man dance," she laughed. Baldwin was also a decent basketball player and a superb dresser. "He'd do things for a suit that no other man could do," she said.
Brown's daughter nodded. "He was fly."
In the kitchen, however, he was a legend mostly in his own mind, Brown said. "He really thought he was the best chicken fryer on the planet."
Last Friday morning, the alarm clock went off at 6:30 a.m., and the couple's daily ritual began. After hogging the bathroom, as usual, she said, "he gave me a kiss and said, 'Have a blessed and beautiful day.' "
They knew they wouldn't be seeing each other until late because Baldwin had a security job that night and Brown had to pick up her 19-year-old brother, who was leaving the hospital after a month, recovering from gunshot wounds. He had been ambushed as he walked into his house, she said, and shot four times.
About 7 p.m., she checked her cell-phone messages. Baldwin had called about 6:30 p.m. to say he was on his way to work.
Ironically, he had quit the job for a few months last year after a bouncer he knew was shot, Brown said. "It's so dangerous out there. People get mad when you kick them out of a club." But he went back to it, she said, because he liked protecting people.
Some time after 8 p.m., as she was driving her brother to his home, she passed her house, noticed Baldwin's car parked there and thought, "He's going to be late." She drove by again on her way to the pharmacy to pick up her brother's medicines. The car was still there. She double-parked and dashed inside.
"I turned on the lights and called, 'CHARLIE!' " (She was the only one in the world he allowed to call him by his given name.) There was no answer. "I said, 'Why are you playing with me?' He can be so silly. He's the biggest kid you ever want to see."
She went upstairs to their bedroom. It had been her mother's room, large and airy with a bay window opened onto the street.
At first, she didn't notice the three small holes, the shattered glass crystallizing the streetlights. She saw Baldwin lying on the floor and thought it was a practical joke.
"Get up!" she said, then walked over to him. There was blood on his face. She ran next door to get her godmother to help her try to revive Baldwin.
"But when I looked in his eyes, I pretty much knew."
The bedroom has been cleaned up, and holds more good memories than horror, she said. "I get more comfort being in that room because there's so much love in it."
Brown's 4-year-old grandson, Samir, crawled into her lap and whispered in her ear.
"They took the rug away," she told him.
"They took the blood away?" he asked. She nodded.
"There was blood in there?" he asked. "Why?"