NEW ORLEANS — As candles were lit, the memory of Everette Jackson grew brighter in Raceland Wednesday night. Red and white balloons even filled the sky, remembering the 21-year-old homegrown athlete and an instant friend to many.
“He made friends with any and everybody, everywhere he went. He wasn’t a stranger to anybody,” said Jackson’s sister Monette Jackson. “His friends called him ‘Slim.’”
This remembrance comes just days after Jackson’s body was found in a river in Western Idaho. He was there tubing on June 11th. Investigators say a witness told them Jackson fell in the water and never came up. He was the youngest of four siblings. Monette Jackson says not having her baby brother around isn’t easy.
“We have to be able to protect him, keep him safe,” said Jackson. “It breaks our heart that he went there and he didn’t come back home. It’s like, why didn’t I know something was going to happen type of thing. It’s all in God’s hands now.”
Leaving his hometown, the Central Lafourche graduate took his skills on the basketball court to LSU-Eunice to major in business.
“I honestly think he went to college only for basketball. That’s what I believe, but maybe he was in it for the business part of it,” said Jackson.
Whatever the reason, he made connections along the way.
“He was the person I talked to,” said best friend Zoie Hartman. “He was always there.”
Hartman says the only thing bigger than Jackson’s outgoing personality, what his love for others.
“The genuine description of love, that was him. He loved with everything he had, didn’t matter who you were, what you looked like, he loved you,” said Hartman.
“He was goofy, outgoing, he was just dancing every single day,” said teammate and friend Malik Criner.
Criner says it’s the little things he’ll miss the most.
“The FaceTime calls, the late-night rides, going to the gym late night and just calling him at random times,” said Criner. “I’m going to miss him every day.”
It’s those memories friends and family hold dear, dealing with a loss that’ll be tough to rebound from.
“He was truly our angel on earth. He’s going to be missed,” said Jackson.
Jackson’s body is expected to be brought back here to Raceland Friday. The family has a gofundme account to help with funeral expenses.