Fatima Jaleh Jallow, Staff Writer

That big smile that would lighten up my day is what I miss the most. He was funny and would never fail to laugh with you, rather than at you… Well Sike Nah.

For those of you that do not know me, I am Jaleh Jallow, and I was lucky enough to be one of Ben’s closest friends. He was more like family; my little brother, even though he would argue that we were more like twins. I miss you more than words could ever express. 

I last spoke to you on Sunday at 10:27 pm and you initially told me that you wouldn’t come to school the next day. I was so sad, but then you changed your mind and told me you would come. With my excessive excitement, you sent me the Young Thug meme -RELAX.  Monday morning, I waited in Anatomy and would turn around every time the door opened hoping to see that big smile and hear a continuation of all the stories from the basketball tournament and how great you were. Not knowing, that morning my world would change forever.

Ben was a kind, jovial, fun and loving young man. He was also such a brilliant and studious student. Recently, he realized that he had a 100% on all his Anatomy quizzes and decided not to study for the next test because he calculated he would still have an average of a 96% in the class even if he failed any tests after that. I’ve never seen him happier with a 75% he didn’t study for, knowing that he still passed the class with an A. As he would say- “See, we don’t learn the information, we just outsmart the test!”

One could not help but love and respect him. He was a leader both on and off the court- as Cheick called him, ‘The Captain.’ He never held grudges and didn’t have any negative energy to put out to the world, even towards those that offended or hurt him. I’m the one that used to get upset for him. He only had positive energy towards everyone he met, and I always admired him for that. Even when we fought and I would refuse to say goodbye to him after school, he would say, “So I can’t even get a hug from my sister?” Family, friends, school and basketball were his entire life. He was even going to marry a WNBA player and we had already picked an aspiring baller. I was going to be ‘Aunty Jaleh,’ but it never came to pass. I miss my friend every minute of the day with every fiber in me. I am numb with grief. However, it’s the beautiful memories, messages and videos of him goofing around that keeps me going and I will treasure them until the end of time.

Ben and Brian were supposed to come to The Gambia with my family and me in December. I had so many things I planned to show them- I told Ben about the oceans, how I planned to take him to the villages, meet my family and friends, the crocodile pond and the safari… Even though he said he wouldn’t do the safari because Brian would agitate the lions and they would eat him. Even though the main reason Ben was supposed to go to Africa was for him to learn about the African culture, Ben was worried about whether the Gambian girls would like him and find him attractive… Typical.  I would laugh and tell him, ‘With those curls, they will love you!’

In my culture it is believed that GREAT people do not stay on this earth for a long period of time. They come, do their duty and leave- leaving an outstanding mark in this world and in their community. He was an angel and did what he came to do, which was touch so many people’s lives and left just as peacefully as he came. God blessed us with an angel and we are honored to have had him for a short period of time. I can’t help but think that Ben said, ‘My work is done here and I’m out DUMMY!’- * in his fake Baltimore accent.*

He was raised a beautiful and amazing young man and he loved and appreciated everything life gave him and the love he was surrounded by. The basketball games, late night drives, holidays and just the pure love. He also loved and admired his brother, his cousins, Uncle Scott’s sports car and his baby cousins. He treasured moments with his family dearly. 

I only wish to see his joyful face one last time. Touch his Afro (that no one was allowed to touch) one last time. Hug him tight one last time. Laugh uncontrollably at his jokes one last time. FaceTime him one last time. But with life comes death and I am gradually coming to terms with it and trying to see the positive in all of this. I hope you all can find it in your hearts to do the same at such a difficult time. I am so grateful that I got to experience such a pure friendship of a lifetime in such a short period of time filled with love. I will protect your memory and love you for the rest of my life, Benjamin Alexander Uzzell.