"You're witnessing the good that came out of something so horrible," said 19-year-old Dennise Jackson. She joined the crowd watching a sports tournament that helps raise money for scholarships. The event is named after a close friend who was murdered.
The Third Annual Brandon Jackson Basketball Shoot Out took place June 22nd at John Muir High School in Pasadena. Once again, the event got tremendous support from the Pasadena/Altadena community and beyond, said Coach David Williams. "We have a victory in Brandon's name," he continued. Williams was Brandon's AAU Basketball coach. This year, more than a dozen local basketball teams competed in the tournament. Uniformed referees donated their time.
Brandon Jackson was gunned down on a street in Altadena on February 12, 2011. He had just turned 18, and the crime remains unsolved. The First Presbyterian Church of Altadena formed "Stepping Into the Light Outreach" after Jackson's death. That eventually led to the Brandon Jackson basketball tournament.
"So many remarkable young people apply for the scholarships; it's getting harder each year to make a decision," said Debra Williams, "Outreach" Director. The organization lists this year's recipients as Antwione Davis, Jason Gray, Judah Lacy, Billie Rude, Jewelia Murrell, Diana Romero, Tyler Pulley and Courtney Logie.
Logie says she is the first in her family to go to college. She hopes to achieve her dream of going to law school. Tyler Pulley said he wants to learn how to build and program computers. He played basketball with Brandon Jackson. He remembers the slain teen as someone who worked hard and was always smiling.
Judah Lacy showed off her singing talent during the scholarship presentation ceremony. Her mother said Judah could sing before she could talk. Lacy is headed to Pace University.
"Brandon should have been able to go to college," said friend Dennise Jackson. She was one of last year's scholarship winners, and is now a Social and Behavioral Science major at Cal State Monterey Bay. Remembering Brandon, she said, "The tournament is so positive, I just wish he were here to see it."
[Reva Hicks is a freelance writer, who worked for Channel 4 news for over 30 years.]