Funeral of 18yrs young D’Andre Lawrence Blackwell
On April 11, 2010 D’Andre Lawrence Blackwell celebrated his 18th Birthday.
On May 25, 2010, D’Andre graduated from Valley High School.
On June 2, 2010 D’Andre was shot and killed as he attends a High School graduation party.
On June 16, 2010 Destiny church located at 5230 Ehrhardt Avenue is filled to capacity of family and friends mourning the tragic death of D’Andre Lawrence Blackwell. The people were mourning.
Tears flowed down the faces of the young and old.
At the funeral were many familiar faces. Youth who were in attendance and some who were pallbearers at the March 2010 funeral of 17yr old Marque Alexander Johnson were also in attendance mourning the passing of another classmate, friend and love one.
On the wall above D’Andre’s gray casket were the words, “For I know the plans, I have for you.” Declare the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you plans to give you hope and a future.” Another banner on the wall near D’Andre’s casket was the words, ‘Go ye into all the world.’
D’Andre lay breathless dressed in a white suit with a blue shirt. A white baseball cap was near his hands. We could not see the big beautiful eyes his friends and family often spoke of.
We could not see the beautiful smile family members would say he always possessed. We saw a lifeless body in a room filled with life, pain sorrow, love and death.
The Processional began and Ministers, Family and Pallbearers walked down the middle aisle as a Minister softly spoke “Yea tho I walk through the Valley of the Shadow Of Death”. Young faces appeared frozen in a psychological frozen state as many in attendance are walking through the Shadow of Death losing another friend before they’ve fully mourned the death of a previous friend shot and killed.
Many of D’Andre’s family members were beautifully dressed in white to match D’Andre. The Pallbearers walked down the aisle in their blue Valley High School uniforms.
D’Andre was born in Sacramento on April 11, 1992. He attended Mark Hopkins Elementary School, Samuel Jackman Middle School and graduated from Valley High School.
D’Andre’s cousins, grandfather, best friend and coaches each cried as they spoke of D’Andre’s genuine compassion, his big heart, bright smile and passion for basketball.
D’Andre had once told his mother, ‘If I weren’t in your life, your life would be boring.” A mother, father, family and friends lives will forever be interrupted by the absence of a young man they love and will forever miss.
The family and friends grieved.
Coach Bradley cried, “ I am D’Andre’s basketball coach; the last one. For two and a half years D’Andre has been in my life. When I think of De’Andre I think of positive influences, family, team, Valley Hi. Defense is part of being successful. In basketball we call it ‘D’. Defense has a new meaning for me. For the rest of my life when I coach and we yell ‘D’, I will be saying D’Andre in my heart.”
Coach Davis cried, “D’Andre wants everyone to be happy. His big ol eyes, pretty lil smile, giving person. De’Andre made the family strong and brought chemistry towards the team. “He spoke of a trip the team took to Reno and how some of the team thought the car would not make the trip. He cried when he said, “D’Andre said, we’re gonna make it Coach and when we made it he got out the car and gave me a big hug.”
The coach told the youth in attendance, ‘You have to stop living for the presence and live for the future.”
D’Andre’s best friend, Deja Turner, cried, “I love you.’ She spoke of how he would call her at night and when they were going to hang up the phone he would tell her, “I love you.” She would respond, “Excuse me?” And he would say, “ love you goodnight.” She cried, “I love him.” She thanked D’Andre for being over protected, and said, ‘We’re going to get through this.’
D’Andre’s cousin, Deja Bass cried, “D’Andre loved everybody. I never saw him not smile.” She cried as she stated, “I use to ask him, dang don’t your cheeks hurt yet from smiling.”
D’Andre’s grandfather, John Blackwell Sr, often appeared to choke in pain as he spoke. He thanked everyone for being there. He cried, ‘I’m going to miss D’Andre dearly with all my heart. We were always close. I am very proud of my grandson. I was proud of him all through the years. “
His grandfather temporarily broke down and then continued speaking, ‘I don’t know if there are any words I can say to his mom, dad, to his relatives, the pain we’re xperiencing right now, I don’t know what to say. I can only say he had a wonderful smile, big bright eyes. We lost a dear friend, grandson, I love so much.”
Several other family members would also speak of their love, pain, sadness of D’Andre’s absence. D’Andre will be gone but never forgotten by all who love him.
Minister Y.W. Griffin Jr did an outstanding job reaching out to the youth in attendance. In fact, he did better than any funeral I have ever attended of a youth murdered. He reached out in the spirit of love and lifted the youth. His message was empowering. I have never seen youth attend a funeral and be embraced by a minster the way Minister Griffin Jr held the youth through their pain. His energy, love, compassion was infectious.
This is the second funeral I have taken my 17yr old son of a classmate and friend who was shot and killed. At the funeral I saw so many familiar faces of youth I have seen at previous funerals.
I hugged them and gave them my number to call me anytime, day or night. As I left and was 2 blocks from the church, I received a call from a youth who was a Pall bearer at Marque Alexander Johnson’s funeral and in attendance at D’Andre Lawrence Blackwell’s funeral. He spoke softly and intensely, as he stated, “I need you. Please come back and get me”
I immediately turned the car around and went back to get him. What would happen next is truly alarming. But I will write about that in Part 2- After the Service and Before the Healing- Elk Grove PD.
The funeral of D’Andre Lawrence Blackwell was truly a celebration as many found comfort in the love of God. The words would echo throughout the service, “ D’Andre is with God now.”
My heart aches for another family who has lost their youth to homicide. May God lift, bless and comfort everyone affected by the tragic death of 18yrs young, D’Andre Lawrence Blackwell.