When a 15-year-old Lebanon High School student athlete was found dead in his home in June, his teachers, coaches, friends and, more importantly, his family were devastated.
Jaelin Davis was a rising sophomore at Lebanon High School when he died of what officials at the time deemed natural causes. But no death of such a young person can ever seem natural, and his friends and family are still reeling from the shock of his loss.
An investigation into the cause of Davis' death fell to the Lebanon Police Department. At the time, Chief Scott Bowen said it would take months to get an official cause of death. The final report has come back and Bowen said the cause of death was listed as myocarditis, which is a virus that inflames the heart muscle. Experts say it is nearly impossible to detect and produces no symptoms or flu-like symptoms easily mistaken for something less serious.
Before Davis was a standout at Lebanon High, he was a beloved student at Tuckers Crossroads Elementary, and his school family there came up with the idea of a memorial benefit game to honor his memory. The event is planned for Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at Tuckers Crossroads Elementary School, where the gym floor will be dedicated in his honor. Tickets will be $4 at the door.
Ticket and bake sale proceeds will go to his family to help cover funeral expenses. Davis' teammates will be there to help celebrate the memory of their friend, and Davis' classmates and the moms of his friends are doing the baking. His Lebanon teammates are invited to the event, and his Tuckers Crossroads teammates will be there as well.
Amanda Johnson, an educational assistant at Tuckers Crossroads, is one of the people organizing the event. She is also one of the people who is still trying to cope with Davis' death. She taught him in the classroom and was around him for his entire elementary school career. Johnson is keeping Jaelin's parents, Demetria C. Davis and Clayton Nunley, in her thoughts as she gets ready for the memorial.
"His parents are still devastated; they're having a really hard time," Johnson said. "So are his grandparents whom he lived with some of the time. They are still struggling with it. The funeral cost is an extra burden they have that we are hoping to alleviate."
Johnson said the school has already honored Davis; the memorial will just make it official.
"His name is already on the gym floor with his basketball number," she said. "We're going to dedicate it to him that night."
Johnson became emotional as she discussed how long and how well she knew Davis. In fact, Johnson still refers to him in present tense.
"I started the year he was in kindergarten. He and my daughter are the same age," she said fighting tears. "He's a great kid, and we all love him - we do. My daughter is having a really hard time with it, too. They were really good friends."
Johnson is concerned everyone will only know Davis as a great athlete, but she said his skills on the field and court are just a small part of what made him so special.
"He was a leader; kids looked up to him. He did what was right," she said. "He was a well-rounded, great kid. He was a great athlete, but that's not all he was."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.