By: Josh Jackson
First, allow me to send my condolences to the family and friends of Wayde Sims. You will forever be in my thoughts and prayers after this tragedy. In case, someone reading this doesn’t understand, Sims was a 20-year-old man who played high school basketball at University Lab School (UHigh) in Baton Rouge and went on to join the LSU Basketball team in 2016. On Sept. 28, Sims was shot and killed following an altercation near the campus of Southern University. He improved every year he had a chance to touch the court. He followed in the footsteps of his father Wayne Sims, a man who played ball at LSU from 1987-91.
In my line of work, I see this story often, a young man who was taken from the world at a young age in what seems like another act of preventable violence. I’m not the first or the last to say this happens too much in this city. Sims’ death is now another open investigation for Baton Rouge Police, another family forced to bury a young man and multiple communities broken once again.
This happened near, not technically on, but near Southern University’s campus, during its homecoming week, which is already bad enough. Whenever something happens in that area, people tend to blame the environment as if these types of crimes don’t happen all over Baton Rouge. Let’s kill the notion right now that this is somehow the fault of Southern or that SU is “hood.” This could have happened anywhere a group of people gathered. We good on that? Cool.
Let’s also hope that BRPD captures the murderer before someone else tries a revenge killing. We’ve seen this cycle often and it doesn’t end well overall. Some may call this naive, but I write about enough murders to simply not want to anymore. There were dozens of people out there Thursday night, and countless videos have popped up showing the moments leading up to Sims’ murder. With all that evidence, one would pray the case develops quickly.
What we also shouldn’t do is chalk this up as just another day in Baton Rouge. We shouldn’t say “that’s sad, but it happens every day.” Some of us will, but we shouldn’t. I don’t think we should let any murder be met with an “aww” and a shrug. Unfortunately, this may be the most unreachable wish on this list.
Some are only saying Sims’ death is getting the traction that it is because he was an athlete. We all know the world loves sports and the names are a bit more notable in that universe. I don’t see this as such a case locally. For our area, for our community, I see this killing as one that connects most of us in a very specific way.
From the few times I’ve spoken to him, I feel that Sims was a young black male who had big goals. Many of you reading this can likely relate to that part. While he wasn’t a Baton Rouge native, he had roots here. He and his family are a part of our community. No one could have honestly wanted this to happen. This is a chance for people to come together in another attempt to slow down the violence that’s sweeping this city. When these things happen, there shouldn’t be any LSU vs SU, high-class vs low-class, college-educated vs non-college educated. Why? Because that doesn’t matter and doesn’t bring closure to anyone.
I write this because 12 hours after Sims’ death, I’ve already seen it happen in real life and on social media. We divide far too often and now, some of us feel that its easier to do that than simply show respect. Wayde Sims showed respect every time I saw him, and I did the same to him as a result. His life should be remembered as one filled with talent and love.
I’m not asking for a giant kumbaya with all of Baton Rouge’s leaders, elite and the people that live here. What I am asking is that we think before pointing the finger or saying something reckless for the sake of clout (you know who does it). We as a whole have to do better and it starts with ourselves. Anytime I talked to Sims, I asked him one question: How are you? His reply: Getting better every day.
Let’s be better. Let’s hold each other accountable when reacting to situations like this. Let’s try to break the cycle.