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Damion Baker was murdered. Now his mother is keeping his memory alive — and helping St. Louis

An'namarie Baker sits for a portrait.
Danny Wicentowski
D-Bake Foundation founder An'namarie Baker

Damion Baker had dreams. At Christian Brothers College High School, he was a star player on an undefeated championship football team. After college, and more football, he returned to St. Louis on a mission. First, he joined a local labor union as an apprentice. He wanted to start a career in construction.

But Damion’s plans were cut short. Last summer, on July 3, he was killed in a shooting just south of Busch Stadium. He was 25 years old. The killing remains unsolved.

A selfie of Damion Baker, which shows him in a hard hat and respirator mask.
Courtesy of An'namarie Baker
Damion Baker, shown in a selfie taken during his work on a construction site.

However, Damion’s dreams live on. After his death, his mother, An'namarie Baker, created the D-Bake Foundation, which aims to help people develop skills that will put them on a path to a career in construction — an idea inspired by her son.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Baker remembered her son as “my bright and shining star.”

“He was an exemplary very young man,” she said. “He was forthright, a positive and joyous individual. I am grateful to God for allowing me to care for him while he was on this Earth.”

Damion Baker had made plans to launch a nonprofit that would teach young people job skills. Named after Damion Baker’s nickname, D-Bake, the foundation has partnered with the St. Louis Construction Contractors Assistance Center. It offers a paid, five-week pre-apprenticeship program, designed to prepare participants for a career in construction and skilled trades.

Baker said her son was particularly concerned about the lack of minorities and women on the job sites he frequented as a member of Laborers Local 42. Now, the foundation that bears his name is helping people get their foot in the door of the industry.

“So when you come into unions and most contracting jobs, you start out at the very bottom,” Baker explained Monday. “To be afforded a pre-apprenticeship, you're kind of jumping the line a little bit, because you're getting some skills that you wouldn't normally receive until you're on the job site. This is our goal: to bring familiarity, skill sets, and that when you are on the job site, you're just not lost.”

To learn more about the pre-apprenticeship program, and how to register for classes this summer, call 314-409-2318 or visit the program’s website.

To learn more about D-Bake Foundation, including the experience from a participant in its pre-apprenticeship program, listen to the full St. Louis on the Air conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

D-Bake Foundation joins "St. Louis on the Air"
An'namarie Baker discusses her son’s life, his mission, and how pre-apprenticeship classes can help people get on the path to a career.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."
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