Neal: From Florida, Adams connects with wounded North player

FORT MYERS, FLA. — A day after being shot three times in his legs, Cashmere Hamilton-Grunau's mind was on one thing.

"He was more worried about missing weight room than what happened to him," Charles Adams said. "He's doing better.

"But he was like, 'How long am I going to be out?' "

It was a relief to Adams, his football coach at Minneapolis North High School. Adams, a former Minneapolis police officer, also is the Twins' director of team security. He couldn't see Hamilton-Grunau or be with his players because he's more than 1,700 miles away in Fort Myers at spring training.

Adams had just returned to his condominium following the Twins' 11-0 victory over the Red Sox on Wednesday night when he received a text message from his sister, Brittney, an MPD officer who responded to a shooting near the 2100 block of N. 8th Avenue. Hamilton-Grunau was walking home with a friend when a car approached, and the occupants asked if they were in a gang. Hamilton-Grunau tried to run away but shots rang out from the vehicle, striking him.

Adams was assured by his sister, who rode in the ambulance, that Hamilton-Grunau was going to survive, although one bullet in his right leg might have to remain there permanently.

"I know my sister," Adams said. "If it was serious, serious, she would have called me and not texted. She texted that she was headed over [to the hospital], and she explained to me that he was in stable condition."

Adams doesn't want his team, his school or his community to suffer through more grieving. It was just over a year ago when star quarterback Deshaun Hill was shot and killed on Feb. 9, 2022, while at a bus stop while walking home from school, sending shockwaves through the community. Hill's killer, 30-year-old Cody Fohrenkam, is serving a 38 1⁄2-year prison sentence for the murder.

"Just another wound opening up for them," Adams said. "This is something they go through every day. If it is not one thing, it's another."

Adams played at North and later policed the area. He strives to do his part to help his kids enjoy sports while providing a safe haven and a potential pathway to college and a full life. He has built the Polars into a competitive program, winning the Class 1A state title in 2016. They went 8-0 last season before losing in a section semifinal.

Even though Adams left the police force, he was not going to stop coaching. He wants to be there for the kids — nothing changed about that after he joined the Twins.

Speaking in the Twins clubhouse after their 3-0 loss to Toronto at Hammond Stadium on Thursday, Adams praised the work of his assistant coaches in response to Wednesday's shooting.

"Kids just want to live, man," Adams said. "I'm just glad he's OK."

Polars assistant coaches called a team meeting on Thursday, pulling their families together for collective support. They brought food and talked with their players as they all processed what happened. Cashmere, nicknamed "Cash," is a starting lineman for the Polars, and he also qualified for the state tournament as a wrestler.

The most encouraging development Thursday was Hamilton-Grunau sending messages and videos to his teammates from his hospital bed. Those uplifting moments surely will help them cope with the near-tragedy. Adams has been in contact with Hamilton-Grunau as well.

Adams and the Polars will try to move forward and eventually welcome Hamilton-Grunau back to the weight room and practice field. They know the future will be challenging. The past definitely has been.

"This is every day for us," Adams said. "We've got to keep fighting. These kids, that's the whole challenge of us preparing these kids to move on. Get them out of this environment. No one else has to deal with this type of stuff, but this is what we know. We just have to keep going."