Celebration of Life honors local athlete’s legacy

JACKSON, Tenn. — For the past 13 years, a community comes together to show their celebration for a son, brother, friend and teammate.

This past weekend the Ellington family held the annual scholarship fundraiser and Celebration of Life for their late son Jerome Ellington.

Jerome lost his life January 28, 2009 to gun violence. He was 19 years old, three weeks into his first year at Lane College.

Jerome’s parents expressed how grateful they are to the community for helping keep his legacy alive and use this event to give back.

“Jerome was all about helping others, and we as his parents just want to continue with his legacy,” said Jerome’s mother Norma Ellington. “This is a way that we can honor his memory.”

Jerome was a standout basketball player at Jackson Central Merry and was known for his work ethic, and ability to stand up for others in their time of need.

“He’s gonna get out there, he’s gonna work hard,” said Councilman Johnny Dodd. “He’s gonna do whatever he has to do. He did that all the way through his life as a kid and he was always taking up for other people.”

The recipients of the scholarship receive up to $500, and the family is excited to grant this year’s graduates and their hard work, and hopefully more in coming years.

“I feel like this scholarship is an amazing opportunity,” said recipient Adrienne Comer. “It will help me cover things that my other scholarships won’t help me with such as books and things like that.”

“It made me feel good because many people don’t just get a scholarship award,” said recipient Jada Blake.

Even thirteen years after his passing, Ellington continues to inspire and motivate the people he loved to give back and spread joy.

“I mean, you see everybody coming out. He still has an impact on this whole community, on the basketball community,” said Jonathan Tyus.

“He was so loyal to his friends, that’s why it’s easy to have people still come here and support his name,” Anthony Cuyler.

In addition to the scholarships, they also hold an All Star game with his former teammates and friends who love the game as much as he did. Some of the players were people like Liberty Girls’ head basketball coach Jeremy Simmons and Deanglo Toles, who looks at the game as a opportunity to not only honor Jerome, but makes it his personal goal to put in his best work possible.

“I slacked off a little bit in the first half, I only had came out with three points,” Toles said. “But catch this second half, it’s gonna be a little different. And we gone get the dub, green team.”

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The game was Team Green vs. Team Black and was a highly competitive contest that continues to grow every year.

Mrs. Ellington is grateful for what the event has become, and looks forward to keeping the event going for many years to come.

“Next year we are looking forward to continuing this maybe 10 plus. I just want to thank everybody for their donations and coming out and supporting this and just continue to pray for the Ellington family.”

The theme for this year’s Celebration of Life was “If you dream it, you can achieve it.”

If you would like to donate to the Jerome Ellington scholarship, you can do so by contacting Norma Ellington on Facebook.

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