Home Local News ‘Gone too soon:’ Richmond Senior basketball player Jalen David remembered for his...

‘Gone too soon:’ Richmond Senior basketball player Jalen David remembered for his smile

Several people wore T-shirts in memory of basketball player Jalen David at a balloon-release ceremony in his honor Wednesday at Falling Creek Park.
William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — Hundreds of balloons filled the sky Wednesday evening above Falling Creek Park in memory of Jalen David.

Many were Raider green and gold. Some read, “You’re #1.” Several were designed as basketballs. Others were the letters of his name.

David, a basketball player at Richmond Senior High School, died several days before.

His past coaches stood together as friends and family members gathered around, some wearing shirts with his photo.

“As you look around and see, Jalen was well-loved,” said Taneika Reader, David’s travel basketball coach when he played for the Richmond Jammers, welcoming everyone on behalf of the family.

“Jalan was a smart, sweet kid and he will be truly missed,” she said, adding that he was “gone too soon.”

Several people took the opportunity to address the youth in the crowd, including Bryan Stanback, David’s uncle Robert Covington, and his pastor, Cynthia Martin.

“Y’all need to realize, as parents, we live in the fear of this day,” Stanback said. “We live in the fear of getting that phone call that you never want to hear in your life.”

He told them that when a parent says no or doesn’t want them to go somewhere, “it’s all out of love.”

“We’re not trying to be mean, it’s just that we have a job to do and you all are our job. It’s our job to make sure we teach you, provide for you, but most importantly, love you and encourage you to do anything you want to be anything you want to be.

“Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t be something,” he continued. “Don’t let nobody tell you you’ve got to live life in these streets, that you got to tote a gun to survive in these streets, that you got to tote a gun to have fun, that you got to smoke or drink to have fun. Whatever the case may be, don’t let nobody put it in your head that that’s what you got to do to enjoy yourself.”

He told them if they have to carry a gun to go somewhere, they don’t need to be there.

“Everybody’s life out here is just as precious as the person standing next to them,” Standback continued.  “We need to realize that all the crime that goes on is still black-on-black crime — no matter if it’s a mistake or not, it’s still a crime … No matter how sorry you fell about the situation, he’s (Jalen) never coming back. 

“The only thing we can do is love who he was, love his parents, keep his name lifted up — great kid, great smile — and make sure we realize everytime we think about doing something stupid, that Jalen wouldn’t want that.”

Covington said he refuses to see his nephew’s death in vain.


“All you young men here, think about what you’re seeing here,” Covington said. “Think about these families here, think about the pain here … we can’t get this one back. Live every day of your life and think twice before you act out.

“To sit here and look at Jalen’s picture on that shirt, and the kindest sweetest young man that he was, and still is in my heart, guys … he wasn’t violent, he wasn’t harsh … he was just loveable, man.

“And do you know, right now, this is what’s being took from this world — loveable people?”

“I tell people every day, you’re going to be spiritually fed, or you’re going to be worldly dead,” Covington continued. “There’s enough of us out here now to show you guys, you don’t have to constantly be what the streets want you to be. You’re looking at a living example right now.

“You do not have to be a thug if you don’t want to be a thug,” he added. “You can be a doctor, a lawyer, anything. You know, we’ve probably got a president standing out here? Do you know we’ve got a head doctor out here? Do you know we’ve got a head nurse out here? Do you know we have a school teacher out here?

“Do you know Jalen probably could have been in the NFL, NBA — or a lawyer?” Covington asked. “Guys, when you walk away from here today, all you bad guys and all you bad gals, and anybody that think they bad, this is how I want you to be bad: I want you to join the gang of Jesus.”

Covington wasn’t alone in encouraging the youth to turn to God.

Martin, led the crowd signing, “How great is our God,” before recounting a memory of David.

“Jalen, when he would come to church, he would sing, but he would sit there and smile the whole time,” she said.

Following the song, Martin asked anyone who wanted to dedicate their life to raise their hand.

As others before him, Richmond Senior social studies teacher and varsity girls basketball Coach Teddy Moseley remarked on David’s smile as he walked through the classroom doors.

Moseley said he will still see David on the court playing HORSE.

He then addressed David’s family.

“I want to thank y’all for letting us enjoy your son,” he said. “Because it was a pleasure and honor for us to know someone like Jalen, and he will always be with us.”

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Managing Editor William R. Toler is an award-winning writer and photographer with experience in print, television and online media.