For Joseph London Smith on what would have been his 31st birthday | Tribute

I don’t blame him for reacting that way. Takeoff, whose birth name was Kirshnick Khari Ball, was reportedly the unintended victim of gunfire that erupted at a private gathering following an argument over a dice game. He was 28 years old. Sanders went on to caution players to thoughtfully consider who is around them and the situations they put themselves in.

“People who are influential consistently leave us,” Sanders continued. “You can’t kick it with the same guys. . . . They can talk you down, make fun of you, clown you, but you’re going to have to disconnect. So take it in your spirit.”

I understand that Coach Sanders wants to keep the young men close to being on the safe side. Proximity to individuals who do not value life, who would fire a weapon on a minor who falls out, can have deadly consequences, especially for black men and boys. Tragically, my grandson, Joseph London Smith, became one of them. He wasn’t kicking any bad guys on the night of August 13th, but a bullet that wasn’t meant for him found him anyway.

Joseph with a camera doing what he loved best.

Joseph was a photographer and produced short films and music videos through his J. Smith Films Company. He was scouting locations to film a music video that night and visited a club in northwest Atlanta. He had returned to his car when shots rang out. According to Atlanta police, the spat took place outside the club over a parking lot. Joseph as most people called Yes Yes, had no part in it. But due to escalating gun violence, Joseph, a father, a son, a grandson, a brother, a nephew, a cousin and a friend died at the scene. Two other people were shot. A suspected accomplice is in custody, but the shooter is still at large.

Because it remains an open homicide investigation, that’s all I can say about it.

Joseph and his mother, Shenna.

November 7 was Joseph’s birthday; he would have turned 31. That day, his mother Shenna and his siblings and friends in Minneapolis celebrated Joseph’s life with a prayer, a balloon release and a dinner in his honor. My son, Joseph’s father, Josibiah (“Jay”) and other family members celebrated him in Arizona. They refused to allow the shooter to deprive us of honoring the beautiful soul that graced this earth for 30 years.

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