As I waited alongside friends, teammates, and coaches in the hospital waiting room, I thought to myself, bad things don’t happen to good people, especially people who are striving to do great in life, that he would be just fine. Then reality set in when I kept replaying the news from football head coach Randy Edsall, as he told us that Jazz did not make it. Lost in my own thoughts with tears flowing, I remember thinking I was in a dream and that Jazz would jump out from behind any door to tell us he was fine. When that did not occur, I understood what we lost: a brother, a son, a friend, a teammate, classmate, and the most important, a soon to be father to a daughter he would never lay eyes on.
It’s situations and circumstances like this (watching something so tragic happen to a wonderful young man with so much potential and purpose in life) that makes me want to be a part of any organization and educational system that is working towards change. Jazz did not finish living his life nor did he begin the new chapter he was on the verge of beginning as a father. That’s what hurts the most about young people who are continuously loosing their lives before they have actually lived it. This prevalent violence that we witness in elementary, middle, and high school as well as college campuses is life altering and unacceptable.
But what are young people to do? We can’t sit idle and act like our students do not need extra ears and eyes at schools and in our communities. Young people like myself and like most people who may read this need to set examples. We need to be role models, mentors and tutors. We need to listen to the concerns of our students and figure out answers to the difficult problems that will arise, without the involvement of weapons or any means of violence.
“Play each play like it’s your last play” has become a motivational motto for those that were hurt by Jazz’s situation. I strive everyday, I plan every move precisely, I give my all to every fifth grade student I work with here at City Year, and “I do my best to make a difference in the lives of others”.
This year I didn’t mourn your death Jazz; I smiled and praised the impact you left on our hearts. When it is my day to go, I too want to leave the same great imprint on the people I encountered, just like you did. Thank you for that.