Raymond Arke | Editor-in-Chief
Over the weekend, the Duquesne community mourned the death of Marquis Jaylen “JB” Brown, a junior and running back on the Duquesne football team. A memorial service and mass on Sunday Oct. 7 packed the Student Union Ballroom to near-capacity and featured eulogies by President Ken Gormley, football coach Jerry Schmitt and both of Brown’s parents.
Brown had quite the impact on a number of his fellow students. Nayia Faxio-Douglas, a junior and staff writer for The Duke, recalled her long friendship with Brown.
“JB once told me I was one of his top five favorite people and I was honored to be in that category of his life,” Faxio-Douglas said.
She had known Brown since her sophomore year of high school. She attended Elizabeth Seton High School, which was a sister school to DeMatha Catholic High School. Students at the two schools created large groups of friends.
“Our friend groups were like a big family, with dozens of group chats and the boys would always get us (the girls) in trouble at school because they could have their phones in class and we could not,” Faxio-Douglas said. “We would come to our phones at the end of the day to find 5000 messages and of those 5,000 were 4,999 jokes from JB and their responses.”
Faxio-Douglas said that when she first came to Duquesne, Brown was there to welcome her.
“When I first arrived at Duquesne I was unfamiliar with everything, so every day I would go to Kellon and JB’s room until I felt like I had enough friends to leave them alone … it would be me watching JB play Madden while I asked 100 questions, or we would just sit and talk about anything as time permit,” she remembered.
Faxio-Douglas recalled a recent example of Brown’s “selfless” behavior.
“Just Monday [Oct. 1], I was in the hospital to get something checked and even though he made sure I was okay that evening, when I saw him the next day he let me know that he was ready to come to my bedside,” she described.
She said she hoped Brown’s memory will leave a positive impact on Duquesne.
“I hope everyone who JB encountered within the Duquesne community remembers him for the incredible person, athlete, brother and friend that he was,” Faxio-Douglas said.
Maci Italia, a junior political science major, was also a close friend of Brown. Italia had been friends with Brown for the past three years and recalled how they would bond over food.
“He would always text me or Facetime me and say, ‘So I know you got some snacks in there,’ or ‘Milano’s pizza rolls college special? On you?’ I knew every time I wanted to go out to eat, he was the first person I would Facetime to come with me,” she said.
Italia also remembered their experience together at the ScareHouse haunted attraction last year.
“We went to the ScareHouse last October and JB would not lead the group and neither would I … I just remember at one point being dragged out of the haunted house so fast because we were latched onto each other and he just wanted to get out,” Italia said.
She described Brown as caring and “without a single bad vibe in his body.”
“He was always looking out for someone. When I would go to him crying for whatever reason, he would always tell me it will all be okay,” Italia said. “When I would call him to complain about something so little or stupid, he would listen and sometimes would just laugh at me because he knew how overdramatic I could be.”
Italia had some advice for the rest of the campus community.
“I hope we all continue to celebrate his life every day. We all have our different memories, inside jokes, etc. with him so let’s all celebrate his beautiful life and look back on those memories with a smile on our face because that’s what he would want us to do,” she said.
Kraig Hill, a junior and integrated marketing communication major, was also a teammate of Brown’s on Dematha’s and Duquesne’s football teams. He and Brown considered each other “brothers.”
One of Hill’s favorite memories of Brown goes back to their days at Dematha.
“I remember JB was at the very first gogo I ever went to. If you don’t know, a gogo is a kind of party that you’ll mostly find only in the DMV [District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia] area where live music is often played by bands that play the ‘gogo’ genre of music that is indigenous to Washington, D.C.,” he said. “In this case, the music came from an iPhone played on a loudspeaker. JB, some of my other DeMatha brothers and I danced and ‘chopped’ all night … It was a great time, I’ll never forget that night.”
Hill also remembered their senior prom.
“Prom was quickly approaching; I think it was about one week and a half away and I did not yet have a date. I still don’t know how JB did it, but he got me a date … with a model. The girl paid hardly any attention to me at prom and was more concerned with talking to her friends she knew at the prom, but it was still a great time,” he recalled.
Brown’s good humor was something that will always stick with Hill.
“He always kept you laughing. Genuinely just a very funny guy. Funniest guy I’ve ever met. He would give you a hard time sometimes, but it was never malicious. You always knew it was out of love,” he said.
He described Brown to be a free spirit.
“He lived in the moment. He always wanted to try whatever came to his mind because he was always about living life to the fullest. He preached that,” Hill said.
Hill hoped that the memories of Brown’s good spirits will prevail on campus.
“JB always lit up the room when he walked in. If you were having a bad day, it automatically got better when you saw JB. He was a symbol of happiness and the blessing that it is just to be alive, no matter how hard times may get,” he said. “One of the last things JB told me was ‘time stops for no one’ — life will always keep moving regardless of how you spend that time. I know everyone will remember him as a centerpiece of our Duquesne community, someone who spread joy all over campus, and a great student, football player, teammate, friend and brother. He will be missed.”
Brown was pronounced dead on Friday Oct. 5, after Pittsburgh Police responded to reports of a male who had jumped from the 16th floor of Brottier Hall.
In a statement to The Duke, Pittsburgh Police said that campus police had been sent to the 16th floor to investigate an altercation. While campus police spoke to Brown, he “jumped out of a nearby window,” according to the statement.
The investigation is active.