Editorial: It’s not how long you live, but how you live life
This editorial is dedicated in loving honor of Maurice Bey, Jacob Vick, Frances Perry-Smith, Shana Braxton, Devin Holmes, Kennedy Greene, Aaron Montez, Angela Booker, and Maya Smith.
This editorial is going to be very personal to me, but it also will teach each and everyone of us some of the most valuable lessons: It’s not how long you live, but how you live life.
Maurice Bey was a promising athlete at New Kent High School. While playing with some friends on a hot summer day, the young man passed out on the basketball court. His life was taken from the community far too quickly.
But Maurice had the impact you would expect as an athlete. His gathering at Quinton Park was one of celebration. The rejoicing and his interactions with his classmates showed that no matter your race, color, sexual orientation, or any difference that you had, Maurice was going to be your friend if given the opportunity.
To the family of Maurice Bey, thank you for having a young man that showed that you can love somebody despite their differences.
Jacob Vick was an outstanding football player on New Kent High School. One day while going through routine practice, Vick did what he normally did during a practice, but the young man eventually passed on to the next chapter of life.
Jacob’s memorial service inside of New Kent High School was packed from wall-to-wall. The community came out to support the family, but there was something even more powerful that I’m about to share. Jacob was and continues to be a role model. Every time I type of honor rolls, I see the name of his sisters on each list, no matter what quarter it is.
To the family of Jacob Vick, thank you for raising a phenomenal young man that has been a role model to not only his sisters, but to the New Kent community.
Frances Perry-Smith served in the United States military. After her stint, she eventually found her way into Charles City County Public School’s system. With two children enrolled, she accompanied me as the team mother to all the games, supporting not only her children but the other athletes as well.
Frances passed away earlier this year, but her love lives on as a newly born grandchild bears her name. Frances has always had a heart for service, and that’s what she did all her life, no matter where she went.
To the family of Frances Perry-Smith, thank you for allowing us to have this woman who always put others in front of herself.
Shana Braxton was always a comical person as an athlete on mine. From swiping my phone when it was unlocked to leading dance routines before games, her vibrant personality rubbed off on teammates and kept the pressure off prior to games.
Three years ago, Shana died in an automobile accident in Henrico. It was one of the toughest things I have ever had to write about as when I read a description of the vehicle, I knew that was pretty close to her car.
But Shana continues to live every day. Stories about how she brought smiles to faces to even her relatives wanting to live up to her athletic capabilities.
To the family of Shana Braxton, thank you for allowing me to coach someone who was able to take the pressure off others with a good laugh.
Devin Holmes was a football player for Charles City High School that I coached. Along with his brother Dustin, he was known as ‘Lil Holmes’ while his brother was ‘Big Holmes’.
On his way home from work, Devin crashed his vehicle resulting in him being called home at a young age. It was the first real hit I took as a coach where I had loss a student-athlete of mine.
But the lesson that Devin taught us was to be our own individual person. Even though he was a twin, he lived his life as Devin. He liked things that his brother didn’t, and he picked on Dustin as much as possible.
To the family of Devin Holmes, thank you for allowing me to coach a man that taught us that we can be individuals, no matter if we’re attached to the hip of somebody else.
The relationship I had with Kennedy Greene goes back further than anybody I am honoring on this list. Kennedy was a young man who I literally changed his diapers, fed, bathed, and so much more when he stayed at my godmother’s house as a baby. I watched this young man grow and I enjoyed watching him mature.
Kennedy passed away on his way home three years ago this upcoming December. Kennedy and Shana had a close relationship as well as their families. With two angels moving on within a nine-month span, the families stayed strong and bonded as one.
The lesson Kennedy left behind for us to learn is that it’s okay to be curious. As he grew up, Kennedy was always experimenting with items, taking them apart and putting them back together to see how they worked. He did that and knew that sometimes learning from hands-on experience was better than a book.
To the family of Kennedy Greene, thank you for allowing me to have a young man who taught us that it’s alright to be curious if we gain knowledge from it.
Aaron Montez was another young man that I coached during football. He was talented enough to hold up his end, but he made sure his teammates were accountable when it came to execution.
Aaron passed away in 2015 to great sadness of the community. At that time, he was a new father who had his life ahead of him. But even today, he still does have his life as it’s lived through his son.
The lesson that Aaron taught us was to speak up and be accountable for what we do and who we are. We are all going to make mistakes and putting the blame on someone else doesn’t resolve the situation.
To the family of Aaron Montez, thank you for allowing me to coach a man who was accountable and yet respectful enough to know that we all make mistakes (even us coaches).
Angela Booker was a young lady who is best described as a dream chaser. If she had a dream or goal in sight, she chased it. If it seemed out her reach, Angela concocted a plan to make it attainable.
Angela left us far too soon at a young age this past July. A recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Angela left behind the message that in order to be successful, you must not just have a plan, you have to follow through with action. As her parents could easily attest to, Angela was keen on the spiritual passage “Faith without works is dead.”
To the family of Angela Booker, thank you for raising a young lady that always had the passion and drive to overcome obstacles to be successful in all facets of life.
Maya Smith is the epitome of a warrior. Most of you have probably seen this young lady on television and her courageous battle against cancer for the last two-and-a-half years. Maya easily lived her life to the fullest, running a lemonade stand, writing a book, creating crafts, and so much more.
Maya’s battle with cancer came to an end Friday as she transitioned into the afterlife. My last interaction with Maya was at Charles City’s Relay for Life. There, she just continued smiling, even though she wasn’t having the best of days. But you can tell, Maya was and still is a warrior.
To the family of Maya Smith, thank you for allowing us to have a young lady who demonstrated the qualities of a fighter and the tenderness of an angel, reminding us that it’s okay to smile even in days when we don’t feel the best.
While the people I have just mentioned have affected me personally, the lessons they taught can now be applied to us. Remember to show love to others despite their differences, be a role model to others, to be able to help and serve others, to be able to laugh in life, to be our own individual, to be curious and gain knowledge from our experiences, to be accountable for our own mistakes, to overcome obstacles to be successful in life, and to smile even when we have days when we’re not at our best.
To the families, thank you again and I love you all.