The philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero once said, “The life of the dead is set in the memory of the living.” Anybody who has lost someone dear to them can attest to that.
The deceased’s actions while alive, whether positive or negative, leave an impression that lasts a lifetime. Few people, however, have such a positive impact on others that they leave behind a legacy that extends far beyond the grave. Brandon Key was one of those lucky few.
“He was very charismatic,” said Ryan C. George, SGA Vice President and Key’s freshman year roommate. “He was confident and was someone that loved his [Morehouse] brothers unconditionally.”
Key was a student at Morehouse College from Nashville, Tenn., whose passing in January of 2015 rocked the Atlanta University Center community to the core. Majoring in engineering, Key had a unique passion for learning. In addition to being an excellent student, Key played defensive end on the Morehouse College Maroon Tigers football team.
“Everyone knew Brandon,” George said. “Everyone knew Brandon as someone you could always talk to, do homework with, and go out on the weekends with. He was someone who was very approachable and that you always wanted to be around.”
In the beginning of September, four of Key’s hometown friends partnered with the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT) to create the Brandon Key Scholarship Fund.
According to the foundation’s website, the fund will benefit students in Middle Tennessee who embody Key’s most notable characteristics and plan to attend an accredited college or university immediately following their senior year. Preference will be given to those planning to attend a Historically Black College or University.
“[The scholarship fund] was created in memory of Brandon because of his commitment to the community, volunteering for different causes, being an outstanding athlete in high school and a distinguished man of Morehouse,” said Pat Cole, the Scholarship and Tip Coordinator for the CFMT.
Despite being only a sophomore, Key was already one of the team’s vocal leaders. He brought his infectious charisma to the field and left a lasting impression on his younger teammates, especially fellow defensive end Voris Bryant.
“He always brought a positive vibe to practice,” Bryant said. “On the days that practice would get difficult, he made it easier by making you laugh.”
For Bryant, Key helped ease his transition into a new position. Despite being recruited as a linebacker, Bryant is now a second-year starter at defensive end thanks to Key.
“My freshman year, I was new to the defensive end position, and from time to time, he would try to show me certain moves that would help and give me words of encouragement,” Bryant said.
As the class of 2017 begins preparing for graduation, they should not weep at the loss of Key; rather, they should cherish their memories and feel fortunate enough to have experienced his presence.
“Brandon was really huge on education,” George said. “He was extremely smart and one thing that Brandon would definitely want is for someone else to be able to get an education in his honor.”
Although the fund functions to preserve his legacy for years to come, the best way to pay homage to Brandon is in everyday life. Be kinder. Brighten someone’s day with a compliment. Most importantly; however, cherish each day as if it is the last.
C. Isaiah Smalls, II