He had a bright future, was a star basketball player and had plans to play hoops collegiately. Brandon Hendricks-Ellison was a leader, friend, son and role model. On July 15, he was remembered.
On Wednesday, family, friends, elected officials and teammates gathered at the First Baptist Church of Bronxville to celebrate the life of Hendricks-Ellison.
Known as “Boogie” and “BDiddy,” there was not a dry eye in the house. People spoke fondly of the departed teen. Many donned T-shirts and jerseys with the phrase “Live Like 5” in honor of Hendricks-Ellison.
Hendricks, just 17-years-old was shot and killed just a week after he graduated from James Monroe High School. On July 6, cops arrested his alleged killer, 22-year-old Najhim Luke, who was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon.
“By all accounts, Brandon was a great kid, smart, kind, loving, respectful and attentive to others,” said his uncle Noel Ellison. “His smile was an endearing weapon. He could melt your heart with those pearly whites.”
He was born in Bronxville and raised in Morrisania. Not only did he excel on the court, but he also succeeded in the classroom. Hendricks won academic awards and often helped his classmates with their work.
According to Ellison, he was dependable and always there for people in a time of need.
“He truly was a special young man,” he said. “He lived his life as a positive example.”
Surrounded by Hendricks’ teammates, Coach Nigel Thompson spoke about the beloved player. Thompson emotionally choked up, said if he had a son he would wish he was like Hendricks.
According to Thompson, “Boogie “led by example and never missed a practice in three years. He also had him as a student in geometry and said it was one of his favorite years of teaching.
“Brandon is a role model,” he remarked. “A kid who did everything right.”
Thompson said that Hendricks wasn’t in a gang or a troublemaker. The coach said the community must change and the city must create jobs and places for kids to go after school.
“Young people, please stop the violence,” he urged. “Live like Brandon did and live like 5.”
Elected officials Councilman Andy King, Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and Senator Jamaal Bailey were all in attendance. Gibson, who represents Morrisania, said she plans to introduce a bill to the City Council that will rename a street after Hendricks.
At just 17-years-old, Gibson said that the young man’s life was just beginning.
“It’s hard to sit here and mourn the loss of someone who had such promise and a bright future,” she said. “In just 17 years on this earth, look at the impact Brandon had on the Bronx and beyond.”
A somber Bailey said he hopes the community becomes the leader Hendricks was. He was a star point guard and now people must follow in his footsteps.
Bailey had championed for police reform in the past, but stressed if people in the Bronx keep killing each other things will never improve. This nonstop violence must end.
“We’ve got to do better,” Bailey said. “We need to make sure we do the right things in our community.”
Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network (NAN) gave the eulogy.
Sharpton said his daughter told him about Hendricks. He recalled how six years ago he received a similar call about Eric Garner. The reverend said that Hendricks’ legacy shall not be forgotten and he was establishing a scholarship in his memory and donating $5,000.
“Too often we expose the bad kids in our community, but the world needs to know there are Brandons that did the right thing,” he said.
Sharpton said that he was sick and tired of this violence killing people of color. He questioned why people were more worried about deporting immigrants than keeping gun control.
He said that they don’t make bullets or guns on Fordham Road, yet people in urban communities believe guns are the answer.
“Back lives don’t matter until they matter to us as much as [they do] to the people that we say ‘Black Lives Matter’ to,” he said. “His death never should have happened.”