INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — With the pain of the sudden death of 17-year-old Kamaree Lyons still fresh, friends and families gathered Thursday to recall the teen’s contagious smile, kindness and beautiful personality.
Lyons’ football teammate, Emmanuel White, said he can’t sleep at night because he lost his best friend. White said the two planned to attend Indian River State College together.
“We taught each other everything. I taught him about being a lineman, he taught me about being a linebacker,” said 17-year-old White, a senior at Sebastian River High School. “If he was going through his own personal problems, he would put that aside and be there for you.”
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Nearly 300 people attended a vigil at Sebastian River H.S. for 17-year-old Kamaree Lyons, who died over the weekend. His teammate Emmanuel White said the two planned to go to Indian River State College together. Listen here.
Posted by Nick Samuel on Thursday, September 20, 2018
Lyons’ older cousin, Freddie Woolfork, said the teen was on the pathway to becoming a “bonafide leader.”
“The kids respected and listened to him,” said Woolfork, Director of Public Relations for the Gifford Youth Achievement Center. “Death ignites the flame of sadness that never goes away. (Kamaree) wouldn’t want us to be sad.”
Lyons, a student athlete at Sebastian River High School, had dreams to become a professional football player, Woolfork said. The teen died after collapsing at a school gym over the weekend.
The 17-year-old senior also aspired to become a graphic designer and was set to graduate next summer from high school and the Boys 2 Men 2 Greatness Mentoring Program, where he was a lead mentee, GYAC and school officials said.
Students and staff members remembered Lyons at a memorial vigil held about 8 p.m. Thursday at the school’s football stadium, 9001 Shark Boulevard.
Nearly 300 people, including family, friends, classmates and teammates, watched a slideshow with pictures of the teen. Lyons’ football teammates huddled together as a pastor prayed for the teen.
One of the players held a white flag with the number 43, Lyons’ football jersey number. School officials retired the teen’s jersey, saying the number will never be worn again by another player.
Toward the end, Principal Dariyall Brown gave a framed plaque containing the jersey to Lyons’ family.
“We miss him and will always love him,” Brown said. “He will forever be part of the Shark nation.”
Luminaries that formed the letter ‘K’ could be seen lined on the track as the choir and band performed songs dedicated to Lyons. The Navy JROTC rung a bell four times and fired a cannon blast three times, followed by 43 seconds of silence, to honor the teen.
For many, the teen’s death still remains a shock.
Lyons was playing basketball at an open gym about 7 p.m. Saturday at the campus. The teen walked off the court and then collapsed, school officials said.
Lyons was taken to a local hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead. Preliminary autopsy reports show that the teen had heart abnormalities.
Residents mourned as news of Lyons’ passing began to spread throughout the community.
St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church pastor Andrew Jefferson on Sunday prayed over about 60 kids who knew Lyons, Woolfork said. Lyons was part of the church’s youth ministry and attended bible study classes.
“There was a lot of weeping at the sanctuary,” Woolfork said. “That shows the level of respect (Lyons) had at a young age.”
Grief counselors spoke with students and teachers at the high school and the GYAC. Lyons might be gone, but the community will not let his memory be forgotten.
Who was Kamaree Lyons
Lyons had attended Vero Beach High School before transferring to Sebastian River High School, Assistant Principal and Athletics Administrator Billy Williams said. Lyons played junior varsity basketball for two years.
He was also a fullback on the varsity football team.
“He was such a nice and respectful young man. He was very likable and the type of kid you would want to have around,” Williams said. “If I had 2,000 kids like him, I could do this job for the rest of my life.”
Williams said he met Lyons during the teen’s sophomore year. Lyons always spoke respectfully, saying “yes sir” or “no sir,” Williams said.
“I saw him (in the future) as becoming a successful community person, going on to college and getting a great job, becoming a successful husband and great father,” Williams said.
Lyons remained humble despite losing family members in recent years, relatives and friends said. When the 17-year-old’s mother passed away in December 2015, his sister Ebony Hart stepped up to raise him, Boys 2 Men 2 Greatness mentoring Program Director Aundrea Perry said.
Hart was even honored by the GYAC in 2017 for her efforts. Then, another tragedy struck.
Lyons’ uncle, Garry Chambliss, was killed Feb. 2017 after being struck by a stray bullet while visiting family in Gifford.
“(Kamaree) still maintained good grades and stayed in school,” GYAC Executive Director Angelia Perry said. “It wasn’t ‘if’ he would become successful. The sky was the limit for him.”
Lyons attended the GYAC since he was in kindergarten, GYAC Marketing Coordinator Christina Tascon said. As the years went by, the GYAC eventually hired Lyons as a youth worker to assist teachers and elementary school students in the classrooms.
“I did not have to chastise him for being on his cellphone. He knew he had to work,” Angelia Perry said. “The students loved him. The young and the old loved him. He was an all around good kid.”
Lyons usually spoke to a GYAC custodian about 3 p.m. each day when students generally come to the center. The custodian on Monday was “overwhelmed with emotion” and had to be sent home.
“It hit him that he wouldn’t see Lyons anymore,” Aundrea Perry said. “(Lyons) was one of the kids he knew would speak to him.”
Lyons had been involved with the Boys 2 Men 2 Greatness Mentoring program, a nonprofit organization under the GYAC, since its inception, Aundrea Perry said. The program matches black mentees with black mentors and takes students on educational and recreational trips.
Lyons met CNN Political Analyst Bakari Sellers in April 2017 during a Male Empowerment Summit at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Aundrea Perry said.
Mentors and mentees with Boys 2 Men 2 Greatness were in good spirits Wednesday and preparing for funeral services for Lyons. The wake for Lyons is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Gifford, GYAC officials said.
The funeral service for the teen is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at Central Assembly Church, west of Vero Beach.
“It is a great loss to the community,” Aundrea Perry said.
Photos by Nick Samuel and Boys 2 Men 2 Greatness Mentoring Program