To his peers, he was BJ, their friend who made everyone laugh and was always looking out for them. To his teachers and educators, he was Bryant Lee, a "dedicated scholar" focused on getting good grades. And to the community, he was No. 5 on the field, leading McKinley High School's football team.
The 18-year-old died Saturday about 2 a.m. after he was shot in the head in the 1100 block of Sparrow Street, following a party. Two others suffered minor injuries in the shooting, which police continue to investigate.
Lee was described as a scholar, athlete and a leader at McKinley High School in a statement issued by the school Sunday morning.
“Bryant was an 18-year-old dedicated scholar who put his academics above his job as the leader of our football team,” said McKinley principal Herman Brister in the statement. "Students and teachers alike will remember Bryant as intelligent, hard-working, focused, fun-loving and as having a great sense of humor.”
Friends said Lee had plans to attend Southern University, study mechanical engineering and hoped to join the football team as a walk-on.
"He wouldn't let you mess up at school," said Tyrece Radford, a friend and fellow student at McKinley High. "Everyday that I saw him, he inspired me."
Kiy'ya Collins, a 2016 graduate of McKinley High School, said she was planning to attend Lee's Wednesday graduation ceremony to cheer on her friend's accomplishment.
"BJ had a real good heart. Every time we got together, it was nothing but laughter," Collins, 18, said. "He had a real uplifting spirit."
Breona Dunn, a junior at McKinley High School, said Lee was like an older brother to her.
"His laugh is so funny, the dances he used to do, the kisses on my forehead," Dunn said. "I'm an only child, so having a male there for me … to have this happen to him is just heart-breaking."
Dunn said Lee stayed out of trouble and she cannot understand what might have caused the shooting. Lee was also wounded in a November drive-by shooting. Sgt. L'Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman, said Sunday he was was unsure whether an arrest had been made in that shooting.
Asia Gaulden, another friend, said she was at the party with Lee on Friday night — but she still isn't sure what happened. She said she heard about four shots, but soon after, even more shots rang out.
"Nobody saw that coming," said Gaulden, a 17-year-old Scotlandville High student. "When it was time to go, everybody's standing around. I saw BJ and told him, 'Bye,' … (then) shots came from everywhere."
Gaulden said the aftermath has been traumatizing for her but also for the whole community.
Lee's football coach Ken Hilton said the quarterback had kept a 3.5 GPA while being a leader on the field.
"One of the characteristics coaches loved about him is that he was coachable. He was respected by his coaches and teammates," McKinley High School officials said Sunday in a statement. "It is hard to gauge the impact a young man like Bryant may have had in this world had he fulfilled his plans to attend college and carried his great attitude with him into his future endeavors."
Police have not determined a motive or any suspects in the shooting, McKneely said. He asked that anyone with information to get in touch with police, or call CrimeStoppers, which will ensure anonymity.
"We're surprised nobody has come forward with information," McKneely said. "With the large amount of people out there, there are individuals who saw this. … The community is vital to our investigation."
Troye Boss said she and Lee dated when he first transferred to McKinley High School from Scotlandville his sophomore year, but they remained close friends even after they broke up. She had hoped they would go to Southern University together.
"He was caring. He was hilarious. He loved to have fun. He would be there for you and his family," Boss, 18, said. "He was so full of life, so athletic, so smart."