Life as Ayanna Brown knew it ended one sunny spring afternoon in a 7-11 parking lot.
“I still can't stop thinking about him,” Brown said. “There's not a day that goes by that boy's not on my mind.”
That boy was her baby. Twelve-year-old Alajawan was an innocent child killed in a case of mistaken identity by a gang member - one single bullet with so much collateral damage.
“I won't be at his wedding, won't see the grandbabies, holidays, just seeing what he would've grown up to be and the differences he would've made,” said Brown.
Brown chooses the words "the differences he would have made" carefully because they are the words her son used all the time.
“He would always say to me, ‘I want to make a difference in my community,’” she said.
Brown beams with pride about her boy, who would buy pizza slices for the homeless in their Skyway neighborhood and literally carry struggling members of his football team on his back when they couldn't run another step.
“When that wasn't working Alajawan got behind him and pushed him and said, ‘Come on. You can do this,’” she said.
Two years after her son’s death, Brown keeps his things just as they were in his bedroom -- from his meticulously laid out football uniform to his dirty laundry. She cries because it's the closest she'll ever come to touching her son again.
“I'm still not ready to let that go,” she said.
She isn’t ready because Alajawan still had so much to give. He was a portrait of generosity, mowing lawns to make money so he could pay his $150 football league registration. He simply wanted to lessen the burden on his hard working, blue collar parents.
“He’d say, ‘Mom and dad, you guys are doing enough. I wanna do this. I'll take care of it,’” she said.
Which brings us to Alajawan's future - Brown desperately wants to keep her son's giving spirit alive. She's establishing a scholarship fund for low-income kids in her high crime neighborhood. But she's starting with a school supply drive. She chose school supplies because after Alajawan died, she found the pencils, erasers, ruler and glue he'd bought on his own for class – trying once again to make life easier for others.
“This is how we keep him alive,” said Brown. “This is how we keep his legacy and spread his legacy. We can change the world, make a difference one person at a time. Something positive has to come from this.”
The school supply drive is happening from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday, July 28 at the Walmart in Renton. The family is hoping to gather at least 1,000 backpacks. They’ll be at that same Walmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday August 3 as well. You can also make donations to the Alajawan Brown Foundation at U.S. Bank branches. The account number is 153563200408.