Damon Weaver, who was 11 when he attracted national acclaim by interviewing President Barack Obama at the White House in 2009, has died.
Weaver died on 1 May, his sister, Candace Hardy, told the Palm Beach Post. He was 23. Hardy said he died of natural causes.
Further details were not immediately released. Weaver was studying communications at Albany State University in Georgia.
On 13 August 2009, he interviewed Obama for 10 minutes in a conversation posted to YouTube. Weaver largely focused on education, including what could be done to improve school lunches.
“I remember when I used to get school lunches, sometimes they didn’t taste so good, I’ve got to admit,” Obama said. “We are actually seeing if we can work to at least make school lunches healthier. Because a lot of school lunches, there’s a lot of french fries, pizzas, tater tots. All kinds of stuff that isn’t a well-balanced meal.”
Weaver said: “I suggest that we have French fries and mangos everyday for lunch.”
Weaver also told the then-president he appeared to get “bullied a lot” and asked how Obama handled it.
“I think that when you’re president, you’re responsible for a lot of things,” Obama said. “A lot of people are having a tough time and they’re hurting out there. And the main thing I just try to do is stay focused on trying to do a good job, and try to be understanding that sometimes people are going to be mad about things.”
Weaver had also interviewed then-vice-president Joe Biden and basketball legend Dwyane Wade. He told Obama the sports star promised to play a one-on-one match with the president if he agreed to sit for his questions.
“Would you be willing to play him on a one-on-one basketball game?” Weaver asked.
“I would play Dwyane Wade,” Obama said. “I’ve got to admit, though, Dwyane Wade’s a little bit better at basketball than I am.”
Obama told Weaver he was once able to dunk, but no longer could.
Weaver also asked the former president to be his “homeboy”, noting that Biden had already agreed.
“Absolutely,” a smiling Obama responded, shaking Weaver’s hand.
“He was just a nice person, genuine, very intelligent,” Hardy said of her brother. “Very outspoken, outgoing. He never said no to anybody.”
She said the interview with Obama was “a one-in-a-lifetime experience … it was life-changing for him.”
Weaver started in journalism in grade five, volunteering for the school newscast at KE Cunningham/Canal Point Elementary, in an agricultural community on Lake Okeechobee in Florida.
“Damon was the kid who ran after me in the hall to tell me he was interested,” Brian Zimmerman, his teacher, told the Palm Beach Post in 2016. “And right away, I just saw the potential for the way he was on camera. You could see his personality come through. He wasn’t nervous being on camera.”