Bryant Lee Sr. had always dreamed big for his son, and his son — Lee's namesake — had always exceeded the family's expectations. BJ, short for Bryant Junior, had found success in school, on the football field and as a young man, but Saturday the family's dreams for his future were cut short when a bullet struck his head as he was leaving a party.
Now, instead of planning for his graduation and future, the family will be planning BJ's funeral.
Can't see the video below? Click here.
"I didn't graduate, so I was pushing him to not make the mistakes I made," Lee Sr. said, adding that the family was looking forward to his son's impending graduation from McKinley High School. "Now he can't walk the stage, he can't walk across."
"But that's God's will," Lee Sr. said after a balloon release in his son's memory at the high school Tuesday afternoon. "God has a plan for everything, life goes on … There's some reason God took him, but I had him for 18 years."
To his peers, he was BJ, their friend who made everyone laugh and was always looking out for…
On Tuesday, Lee Sr.'s expectations were once again surpassed when he showed up to the ceremony and found more than 200 students, faculty, friends and well-wishers gathered to remember his son, many holding blue and white balloons, the school's colors, and some holding No. 5 balloons, BJ's football jersey's number. As the balloons filled the sky, Lee Sr. and family members released two white doves into the sky, all to commemorate the life of his son — the honors student with plans to study engineering at Southern University, the quarterback of the school's football team who hoped to continue to play in college, and the guy who could make anyone laugh.
"He's a great kid, always respectful … but you can't control other people's actions," Lee Sr. said. "You can be the best kid in the world but you can't control other people's actions."
His father said he was hoping his son's motivation and intellect would propel him to a better life.
"We stay in what they call, 'the hood,'" Lee Sr. said. "I wanted him to get out of it, he was going to get up and get out, but nope. It's unfortunate he didn't."
A McKinley High School senior on the verge of graduating who had quarterbacked the school's …
The investigation into Bryant 'BJ' Lee's death has turned up empty thus far, said Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola. They have not determined a motive or any suspects, Coppola said, though they do hope more witnesses will come forward to help solve the slaying.
More than 100 people were at and outside the party at 8572 Kingfisher Ave. when shots rang out. Lee Jr. was shot once in the head, said Dr. Beau Clark, the East Baton Rouge coroner, and two others sustained minor injuries, police said.
"I don't have anything (from police)," Lee Sr. said. "I need answers."
Friends and teammates of the slain teen cried, hugged and grieved Tuesday, many together for the first time since the shooting, because seniors have finished their classwork.
Jarvais Robinson remembered being the first person to meet his teammate when Lee transferred from Scotlandville High School three years ago, and said they'd shared a special bond since then.
"You'd never expect something like that to happen to BJ, the type of person that he was … you wouldn't expect that to happen to him," Robinson said. "He's not that kind of kid; I can't find one person at this school to say one bad thing about BJ."
The school's head football coach, Ken Hilton, said seeing everyone at the ceremony demonstrated McKinley's tight-knit community and the type of person they tragically lost.
"He was a bright student, he was excited about graduation, he was excited about college," Hilton said. "He was a good teammate, he was a good friend and he was a good person. … I want to see us celebrate his life."
Hilton said Lee will be honored and his family recognized at the school's graduation ceremony Wednesday evening at Southern University.
"It's a hard thing to deal with, but he'd want us to be happy," said Robinson, who had bittersweet feelings about their graduation ceremony short one member of the Class of 2017. "It's a hard time, but a good time at the same time."
Can't see the video below? Click here.