Family, friends remember Jamail Johnson
Published: Sunday, February 6, 2011
Updated: Thursday, May 12, 2011 14:05
Nearly a decade ago, Roger Gillum was a freshman on the Liberty High School football team getting tips and pointers from a hardworking senior, one who always seemed available to help or give advice.On Sunday, Gillum woke up to a message on his iPhone that told him the same hardworking senior had been killed by gunfire during a confrontation at a party early that morning.
Jamail Johnson was described as personable, good-natured and always willing to help out by friends and family who were closest to him.
"The first thing I thought was, 'He'd be the type of kid that broke up a fight,'" John Young, Liberty principal, said of the former Liberty High School student-athlete.
Young said Johnson was the "nicest kid," quiet and involved in a lot of things.
"He was always around, there for everybody," he said.
Gillum said he and Johnson stayed friends after high school but lost touch for a couple of years before reconnecting two weeks ago during a chance encounter at a local grocery store.
"He always asked how school was going," he said.
Gillum, who graduated from YSU last year, said he and Johnson planned to meet up but never set a date.
Johnson's cousin, Brian Glenn, said he also made plans to meet up with him a couple weeks ago but had not really talked to or seen him since because the two were busy with school, work and other responsibilities.
Glenn unsuccessfully attempted to meet with him at the Indiana Avenue house party Saturday night before leaving for another party, then going home around 2:30 a.m. His ride did not feel like returning to the party.
"I could have easily been there," Glenn said. "I would've been right there with him."
Noah Taylor, a Kent State University student visiting Youngstown for the weekend, said Johnson texted him around 3:30 a.m.
asking him to come out.
Taylor responded but never received a response back.
A friend told Taylor what happened at 4 a.m. and his only response was, "Stop playing around."
"It just doesn't seem real that this would happen to him," he said.
Taylor and Johnson worked together over winter break at Foot
Locker in the Southern Park Mall where Taylor said everybody loved Johnson. He described him as a positive person who always brightened up the workplace.
"Jamail just wanted to better people," Taylor said.
Glenn said Johnson was always a generous person, and no one ever had to ask him for help because he would ask first.
"There's not a bad word anyone could ever say about him," he said.
Glenn said he was someone you could always look up to because of how he lived his life.
"He really loved and appreciated everyone he knew," he said.
Out of all the people, he was the one guy, Glenn said. "Why couldn't they all survive?"
Lillian Woodberry, said her daughter, Eslyn, and Johnson were classmates who went to a high school prom together and stayed close after graduation.
She said Eslyn is doing OK but was still feeling ill and too grief-stricken to speak at this time.
Woodberry said Johnson helped her daughter with some classes at YSU, and Esyln had been trying to contact him over the weekend to let him know about a job interview she set up for him.
Johnson transferred to YSU from Ashland University in 2006 to be closer to home, according to a Jambar story from 2007. The Jambar story dealt with diversity initiatives on campus, and Johnson told the newspaper that he believed that YSU needed to work harder to increase its diversity.