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'I am inspired each and every day': Mother honors her late son's legacy through foundation

Annamarie Baker lost her son, Damion, on July 3, 2022, when he was murdered in downtown St. Louis. Now, she's making her son's dream a reality.

ST. LOUIS — A mother is honoring her late son's legacy by living out his dream. 

Former CBC football player, Damion Baker, was murdered last July in downtown St. Louis. 

While the case is still unsolved, Damion's mother, Annamarie Baker, is keeping her son's spirit alive through a foundation.

Despite tragedy and immense loss, Annamarie has created something incredibly beautiful.

"I can hear him sometimes say to me and whisper to me, 'Good job mom, good job,' real soft, as if he were just standing here. He’d just shake his head because that’s really all you ever needed from Damion. If he was nodding his head, you were doing ok," she said.

Three simple words ... that's kept Annamarie going for the past 10 months.

"We know that at the time of our birth, God has a plan for us, and we don’t always know what that is and nor do we always like what it turns out to look like, but I know that I still love God," she said.

Annamarie lost her son Damion, when he was just 25 years old. 

Damion was murdered in downtown St. Louis on July 3, 2022.

Now, Annamarie is making her son's dream a reality through the "D-Bake Foundation."

"After a few months of just going through his things, I found his blueprint to his idea. I thought it to be adequate to name the foundation directly after him. So many knew him as 'D-Bake.' They always talked about him having something cooking, so he definitely always had a plan, he had a masterplan all the time," she said.

It's an idea Damion told his mom about five months before he was killed. 

Annamarie said while working in construction Damion was concerned about the lack of minorities and women in the field, so he wanted to create a nonprofit to teach people necessary job skills.

"He described it to me as not enough people he felt, on the job sites, that resembled him in anyway," she said.

Even though Damion couldn't fill that void, his mom is now. 

Annamarie is partnering with Mokan, the St. Louis Construction Contractors Assistance Center and created a pre-apprenticeship program.

The program is paid and five weeks long. It teaches people everything from resume building to job readiness and 72 hours of hands-on training. 

According to Annamarie, the class also goes on a travel week to explore exactly what they would be doing. 

"They get to see it, touch it and realize that this a real opportunity for them to begin a new path in their lives," she said.

Since they learn skills prior to starting jobs, Annamarie said it has a direct impact on the graduates' wages.

"Now we have individuals making better than a living wage," she said.

Even the building that the foundation is housed in has a special connection to Damion himself, according to Annamarie.

"This is where Damion worked, for the last 4 ½ years of his life," she said.

Damion worked for CMT and Annamarie said he even helped the owner and founder move into the building his mom now houses his foundation in.

"I am just grateful for the team that I have been able to galvanize around me. For their input, for their time, for their energy, for their prayers that have allowed the foundation to flourish in such a way, in such a time as this," she said.

With the class using the saw Damion's hands touched daily and framed pictures of him in the office, Annamarie feels closer to her son every day, as she continues to hear those three simple words.

"He would really just tell me, 'Good job mom and don't stop, go to work,'" she said.

The first class of the pre-apprenticeship program is graduating Friday, May 12. Annamarie said two people already have jobs lined up. 

The pre-apprenticeship program has two more classes starting on May 22 and May 29.

The application deadline for the May 22 class is May 18. The deadline for the May 29 class is May 24. Each class can hold up to 25 students. 

If you are interested, you can call 314-261-4458 or email executiveadmin@dbake.org. You can also learn more about the program here.

Annamarie said she has big plans for the future of the foundation. This includes wanting to become an accredited institute, making an impact on developing affordable homes throughout the city and spread awareness on the misuse of guns and the residue left behind by gun violence.

St. Louis police said they don't have any more information about Damion's case. 

Annamarie said the fact that they still don't have answers, leaves a vacancy in their hearts.

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