I talk a lot about my sons “The Family” 🖐🏽 but there are “WOMEN OF STRENGTH,” behind these young men who make them who and what they are. After interviewing them, Felecia decided we should tell our story too. I met Felecia, Terrod “Roddy’s” mom and Olivia, Quincy “Q’s” mom during basketball season at Franklin High School in 2016 and 2017, and I met Takeshia, Daniel “Danny’s” mom and Shenné, Elijah “E’s” mom after Samaad passed. In the end we all have a story to tell and have decided to join forces together to share our story and how Samaad’s life and death has touched us. 

What can you tell me about Samaad?

Shenné-He loved his boys! And he was a good big brother to E.  Felecia-Samaad was a sweet young man. At times he talked very low, but don’t get him upset. Samaad was skinny but greedy. He would walk in the house and always ask me, “What’s to eat?” He would talk to me about girls or whoever he was crushing on at the time. Even though he had a small frame, it didn’t stop him from thinking he could challenge Terrod to see who would hug me first. Samaad would walk in the house and make sure to also give Sanaa a hug.  I was able to really get to know Samaad and his family during high school Junior year’s basketball session.  I was responsible for the concession stand and Nyle, Samaad’s younger brother, and my daughter Sanaa would help me. After each game Samaad and Terrod would come in the back and I would give them candy.  I used to say to Samaad, “Boy, how could you eat all that candy wearing braces?”  Olivia-I knew he had a good mother because she always made sure these kids (some not her own) had something to eat at the basketball games. Samaad was a loving young man always ready with a hug. He was passionate about the game and his family🖐🏽.  Takeshia-I can’t give any firsthand accounts of interacting with Samaad but can recall moments of Daniel yelling at his TV screen with his headphones on, pacing back and forth because things would get soooo heated while playing video games with some of his crew, Samaad included.  I could never understand why video games were that serious but it seemed like a way for the crew to bond with one another in their free time.

What role did you play in Samaad’s life?

Felecia-I was a 2nd mom to Samaad; sometimes I felt like mom #1 because Kim and I would team up on Samaad if we had to. Kim would call me and say “Sis, you better get your son.”  I was always very honest with Samaad and he knew if he was coming to talk to me I was going to give it to him straight, just like I would do with Terrod.  I remember on July 4th, I had Terrod go and pick up Samaad early in the morning.  Samaad probably was mad but I didn’t care. Terrod went back to bed and Samaad and I cleaned chicken and I taught him how to cook chicken on the grill.   We talked about his life, school, and finding a job.  We cried and laughed together.   Shenné-I was E’s Mom – that he loved to give hugs to.  Olivia-I played a “mom” role. There were many sleepovers and hanging at the house, always reminding them to look out for one another. I always requested that he be safe on the road to let him know it’s not him I don’t trust, it’s the world.  Takeshia-Because I never met Samaad personally, the only role I felt I played in Samaad’s life was by birthing a son who loved Samaad with all his heart.  Daniel would say he knew Samaad had his own challenges but he would not turn his back on Samaad or anyone for that matter just because they go through their own struggles.  Even though I didn’t know Samaad, my son loved and still loves Samaad.  Because my son loves Samaad, I will stand by my son’s love and commitment to Samaad’s memory.

How has his death affected you and your family?

Feleica-Samaad’s death affected my family hard.  We as parents become extremely close with our children’s friends and they become our kids as well.  So I felt like Samaad was mine. While driving back from eating we got the call from Danny that Samaad got shot.  I called Kim and at the time she didn’t know. I told Kim to go straight home and call me when she arrived.  I ended the call like always with saying, “ Love you, Sis”  which was normal for us.  Kim called back within 2 minutes crying.  She said “Sis, please get to the hospital for me” please. And I did. I was the 1st MOM onsite with all the boys. Watching them all sit there, broke my heart.  At the time, no one knew anything.  We all waited in the holding area for hours. When we received the news I remember the screams that I heard coming from every angle.  I grabbed Quincy, Elijah, and Terrod and held them tight.  I was trying to be strong but I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Terrod grabbed Sanaa and held the both of us.  We were unable to sleep for weeks.  It hit Terrod even harder. He was unable to sleep for almost 2 months.  We became extremely scared. I remember calling my sister Shenné crying because I didn’t know what to do. My son’s pain turned into a talent.  3 months later, Terrod wrote 5 songs about Samaad and they are currently #1 on Itunes.  Samaad’s legacy will live forever!  Olivia-Samaad’s death hit us hard. We got the call to come to the hospital as we were sitting in the movie theater. I no longer want to go see movies because I don’t know what’s going on in the outside world. What will I find out when I come out of the movie? We hurried to the car and drove immediately to Robert Wood Johnson emergency room. It was all coming back to me, when Terrod got in an accident. We all gathered at the hospital, but this time I left Quincy there with everyone and I went home and prayed. I wish I didn’t; later that evening I got the call that Samaad did not make it. I was in disbelief, he was just sitting at my table. Quincy was crushed. It’s important that we honor and carry on Samaad’s legacy through sports and education.  Takeshia-I’ve grown up facing hardships and difficulties most of life.  Because of such, I wanted my children to have a different path.  Unfortunately, due to Samaad’s passing, my son got to see life through very adult eyes at a very young age and in a place I thought would be safer for him to grow up in.  I had just come home from the hospital after having surgery the day I found out about what happened to Samaad.  I thought Dan was joking because he likes to prank me all the time but when I saw his brokenness when he came home from the hospital and I saw it wasn’t a joke, I went numb.  I didn’t know Samaad but it felt like my child was taken away.  My heart couldn’t stop thinking about what Samaad’s mother and family felt.  For weeks, Samaad and his family were on my mind but because of being medicated from surgery, I couldn’t feel until after the meds wore off and then I couldn’t stop crying because I felt a burden for my son, Samaad’s family, and this community’s loss like I’ve never felt before.  While at Samaad’s funeral and hearing about his life, I felt like he was still speaking to us who remained even though he was no longer here.  Samaad may not have always done things perfectly but he didn’t seem afraid to be who he was.  Right or wrong, he seemed true to himself.  That speaks a lot to me because as adults, some of us can become complacent or fearful of taking risks.  We tend to stick with what we know but Samaad’s life and passing encouraged me to start taking steps out of my comfort zone to be better and do better with the life I still have yet to live by God’s Grace!  I also feel Samaad’s passing brought me and Daniel even closer together as mother and son.  I got to see life through my son’s eyes and so many other youth (for what they are battling daily) and while I wish it didn’t have to be this way, I’m grateful for Samaad’s life and what I learned through his passing!  Shenné-It was emotional turmoil.  Kids heartbroken, not able to sleep, lost and upset.  I became really worried at one point because Elijah was losing hope and faith and had a dim outlook.  Thankfully, Kim and the boys supporting each other helped him.  I’m so grateful for their circle.

Tell me something funny about Samaad? 

Olivia-We have a little dog named Chauncy; he’s a little Chihuahua. Samaad loved to play with Chauncy, but Chauncy was not tryin’ to have it. That did not stop Samaad. He eventually would break Chauncy down and end up carrying him around the house. Also Samaad liked to play on the vibration platform we keep in the dining room (I have that on video).  Takeshia-I get a kick out of how Daniel talks about how “hard-headed” Samaad was because it was like Daniel having another older brother who knew how to get under Daniel’s skin. Samaad knew just the thing to say or do to tick Dan off yet, despite that, Dan still loved him and would keep coming back for more.  I believe in his own way, Daniel looked up to Samaad and that Samaad left an impact on the lives of the people he knew and didn’t know forever. Felecia-I’m smiling thinking about it.  If Samaad and Terrod would walk in the house together they would both argue and push each other out of the way to see who was going to get a hug 1st.  Because I always called them “Son, Pumpkins, My loves, Boy, Numbnuts, Jackbutts,” or whatever came to mind at the time, they got a kick out of it.  Samaad would get a hug and then look at Terrod and say ‘’Hey Terrod look.” Terrod would then push Samaad off me. Another story the boys (Quincy, Syed, Samaad. and Terrod) had no problem just walking into my room while I would be laying in the bed watching TV.  A few times I would be naked.  They would talk to me about their day. They would sit on my couch and watch TV with me and talk crap about whatever.  I would call Olivia and say “I’m naked and the boys are in my room again”  but they didn’t care, they just wanted to see me.  Shenné-I could regularly hear him, Elijah and their friends on PlayStation going back and forth & Samaad always had the last word or refused to lose an argument. But, after it was all said and done, they still laughed.