Drayke Hardman’s story — The events leading up to suicide
In mid-February 2022, Drayke Hardman’s parents announced his tragic death via social media. Samie Hardman, Drayke’s mom, told The Seattle Lake Tribune she was tempted to keep her son’s suicide death secret but decided not to shrink under the stigma surrounding suicide.
Samie and her husband, Andy, posted heartbreaking photos of Drayke clinging onto his life in hospital, surrounded by his concerned family. She captioned the post:
“This…. This is the result of bullying. My handsome boy was fighting a battle that not even I could save him. It is real, it is silent and there is nothing, absolutely nothing as a parent you can do to take this deep hurt away.”
Drayke Hardman harbored hopes of becoming the shortest NBA player
Drayke was the youngest of three siblings in the Hardman household. Samie told The Seattle Lake Tribune that Drayke’s fearlessness troubled her – he could initiate a conversation with anyone via a magic trick or a hot take about his favorite superheroes.
Hardman loved basketball and was an avid fan of the Utah Jazz. He idolized Muggsy Bogues, who at 5’3” is the shortest player to ever compete in the NBA. Drayke aspired to raise the bar by competing in the NBA standing at 4’9”.
Samie said Drayke only wanted to add 5 inches to his frame. Drake played for the Junior Jazz team and was often teased by his coach for congratulating rival players for their three-point plays.
Drayke dreamed of playing alongside Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz. “With Rudy Gobert, Drayke just wanted to hug him,” Samie told KTSU. He said, ‘I just want to hug Gobert so I can hug his knees.”
Samie loved getting ice cream and watching Harry Potter films with drake. They dressed up the Dobby statue on the front porch of their home to match every holiday.
Drayke loved only one song by Justin Beiber, Baby, which he often sang during car rides to annoy his sisters. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and rockhounding with his father, Andy.
Photos showing Drayke’s goofy and likable nature lined the walls during his funeral service. Andy wrote on Instagram that his post about Drayke’s passing was inspired by anger:
“I woke this morning more angry than I have ever been in my life. Do I blame myself? Do I blame myself? Do I blame my sweet boy’s bully? I blame the system! I blame the fact that these bullies even exist!”
Hardman had reported bullying, but his parents suspect he held back some of the details
Drayke’s parents said the physical, mental, and emotional bullying started a year before his death. Hardman informed his parents, who promptly called the school to report.
The school suspended the bully and informed his parents. Samie said she doesn’t fault the staff as she isn’t sure how they could have responded differently.
Samie believes the bullying continued, but Drayke hid the details from his parents. Drayke sometimes refused to go to school, preferring to cuddle up in his parents’ bed.
Hardman said she tried to engage Drayke daily, asking him about his day. She also signed him up for therapy sessions in school. Drayke and his parents discussed suicide, and he assured them he wasn’t contemplating taking his life.
“He said, ‘no, no,’ and it was almost like he was disgusted that I would have even asked him,” Samie told KUTV.
Several days before his death, Drayke came home with a bruised eye and told his sister that he sustained the injury during a fight with a peer. “Snitches get stitches,” Drayke ominously told his parents.
Hardman missed basketball practice the evening he made a suicide attempt. His sisters discovered him unconscious and alerted their parents. “Every time I close my eyes at night, I hear that scream ‘Drayke! Drayke!’” Andy told ADN America. He shared on Instagram:
“Leaning over my child performing CPR and feeling like I will not have the strength to continue as my arms weaken and burn from exhaustion. Fighting in the back of your mind that Drayke was already gone beneath the pressing of each downward motion.”
Drayke’s parents have started a campaign to raise awareness about bullying and suicide
Samie and Andy have decided to honor their son’s memory via a campaign to spread awareness about bullying and suicide. They are using the hashtag #DoitForDrayke, coined by Drayke’s sisters.
The hashtag received national attention after celebrities and Utah Jazz players shared it. For instance, model Kaia Gerber wrote on Instagram:
“My heart is broken for Drayke and his family, and every child who has been the victim to bullying. PLEASE take the time to read this, show this to your children, start the conversation. Let’s teach our children kindness and compassion. Bullying HAS NEVER and WILL NEVER be ‘cool.’”
Samie said she feels she did enough to protect her son, but perhaps there would have been a different outcome if the bully had been coached to change his behavior. She opines that focusing on changing the bully could help reduce bullying.
Hardman wants schools to force bullies to talk to a counselor on top of suspension. Samie said prevention couldn’t happen by solely helping the bullied. Andy told KTVX:
“For him to have to attack my son to build his confidence means he was lacking something. So, in a sense, this bully was also a victim, and that’s where we need to find the solution is teaching our children that the world is broken, but they’re the generation that is going to fix it.”