Viewpoints: Slain VU recruit's poignant eulogy

Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 9:21pm

Just eight days before he was killed trying to protect his mother from her ex-boyfriend, Vanderbilt's top football recruit Rajaan Bennett submitted the following essay in his multicultural literature class at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga., where he was a stellar student and athlete. At his memorial service on Wednesday, attended by thousands of mourners including Commodores coach Bobby Johnson, the essay was read aloud by his teacher, Allison Paulk:

'Strength'

“Somebody once told me that, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' (Philippians 4:13). Life hasn’t been a walk in the park for me, but I’m thankful for the obstacles, hardships and accomplishments that GOD has provided for me. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be the Rajaan Bennett that you know today. I wouldn’t have things any other way.

Strength is the ability to do or bear things in the state of being strong.

In the year of 2000, I moved from the streets of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to the suburbs of Powder Springs, Georgia. A year later, my dad died in a horrible car wreck, and as a 10-year-old, I knew he wasn’t coming back. This tragedy rattled me to the core. I felt as if there was no need for me to live. I wanted to be as happy as the kids with dads and moms.

Some days I would wonder: Why me? But eventually, I realized that it was my turn to become a man. As I became older, I came to notice that in life you use strength as a blanket to protect you from this cold world.

I am the oldest of three and I have a brother with special needs who I have to take care of. I have to balance school, sports, friends and family — and it gets so hard, but I push myself. I push myself like a sprinter who is neck and neck with an opponent with 10 meters left. With the strength that I possess, I feel like I’m Hercules.

I matured faster than all of my friends — and there will never be a time that I will give up. I may complain, I may refuse, and I may even cry about it, but I know I have to do what I have to do. I work hard at whatever I do — just for that man upstairs to smile down on me with the rays of the sun …and they feel so warm.

My drive cannot be stopped or even slowed down, because every obstacle has a way around it. Every day I become stronger from the weights physically, the books mentally, and life emotionally.

There is no limit to my strength and at the end of the day, I want to be known as the strongest.”

 

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101 Comments on this post:

By: dooley on 2/26/10 at 4:07

Such a tragic end to such an inspiring young life.

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 6:32

I also was the eldest (of 4) . I looked to my Dad for a lot. He taught me how things were done, then he expected me to teach my siblings.
I cannot fathom loosing him at 10 years old.
I would of been so lost, and wouldn't of stepped up like Rajaan did.
These "ex-boyfriends" killing mothers of children is beyond psycho.

By: Funditto on 2/26/10 at 7:53

Men who hit women - even one time - should be castrated. In public. With nothing to ease the pain.

By: house_of_pain on 2/26/10 at 8:10

"Funditto, I'd like to have a word with you in private."
-Ike Turner

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 8:18

Then Humphrey Bogart wouldn't have received the Oscar.

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 8:31

House: My all time favorite Curly line was:
"Gentlemen, this bed goes back to King Louie the 5th".
"That's nothing, we had a bed that went back to Sears & Roebuck the 3rd".

By: bfra on 2/26/10 at 8:43

Fun - Your punishment sounds good, sad that Rajaan lost his life because of faults of others, while trying to protect the ones he loved.

How is your son?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 8:53

Morning

This is a tragic story and the hopes of the future lie with our youth. Every time a young person dies we loss a glimmer of what could have been, the possibility of change and new beginnings. Rajaan Bennett could have been someone that brought greatness to this world and just made a little better. We will never know now.

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 9:02

Nemo: Who said it, "I can eat 50 eggs"....?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:09

Luke in Cool Hand Luke.

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 9:13

Nemo..You are correct, sir!
one more...
"I want the chicken salad, but hold the mayo and the chicken."
Waitress: "You want me to hold the chicken?"
"I want you to hold it between your knees".

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:13

My first guess was Curley, but then I remember him lying on the floor having the eggs stuffed down him at the end.

By: bfra on 2/26/10 at 9:13

Nemo is scoring 100 this AM!

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:15

Just a guess d7, Groucho Marks?

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 9:19

Since I have some time to kill before "work". *
*place I show up and they seem eager to pay me.....

(while dancing) "Hold me close, hold me close"....
"Lady, if I was any closer I'd be behind you".

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:21

I should know that one. I remember the lines.

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 9:23

It was your erroneous answer to the "knees" one.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:29

I'm old and I have not had enough coffee. Weak excuse but it is the only one I have.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 9:31

good morning!

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:33

Groucho Marks?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:34

Good morning Blanket. How you feeling today?

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 9:39

much better, thanks.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:46

Blanket

http://cdn-i.dmdentertainment.com/funpages/cms_content/7536/3876.gif

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 9:49

Nemo:
Groucho Marx was the dancer's line.
Jack Nicholson in "Five Easy Pieces" was the "chicken" line.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:52

I never saw "Five Easy Pieces. It sound like Groucho.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 9:55

Try this one d7

"Our great mother does not take sides Jack. She protects the balance of life."

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 10:00

nemo, the firewall here blocked the link.

By: sidneyames on 2/26/10 at 10:04

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 5:32
I also was the eldest (of 4) . I looked to my Dad for a lot. He taught me how things were done, then he expected me to teach my siblings.
I cannot fathom loosing him at 10 years old.
I would of been so lost, and wouldn't of stepped up like Rajaan did.
These "ex-boyfriends" killing mothers of children is beyond psycho.

D7 this comment makes you sound like a real person.

And I agree that the boyfriends' of mothers have to go. My mom had one when I was 14. At the furniture store he told me "when we get home, you're gonna get a whipping". I looked at him and said "if you touch me, my daddy will kill you". Mother dumped him quickly. Later when I was in my 40's I asked her why she dumped him. She said "I don't like your daddy, but I don't want him in jail for murder" She paused and said "you either".

She didn't "fall in love" or date again till sis and I were over 18. She then met and fell in love with her prince charming (33 great years).

Our mothers are to protect us; not set us up for murder. That young man was articulate and a prince in this life. His mother was probably looking to fill the empty void left by the untimely death of her husband. Sad.

Makes me ever so grateful for the mom I had. Like your Dad, D7.

By: mamakat on 2/26/10 at 10:05

While there are many commenting on this article who obviously have wit and style, it is a shame to digress so far from the article itself, which is well written and tells a very sad story. Just my opinion, but it really seems to show a lack of respect for the young man who just died.

By: sidneyames on 2/26/10 at 10:09

I think "essay in his multicultural literature class at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga." should be re-printed, and distributed to every school in America to the classes especially where kids are from rough backgrounds and have gangs. The proceeds should go to his family.

This young man was a great writer. He said " Every day I become stronger from the weights physically, the books mentally, and life emotionally" He was strong spiritually also. In his death, there could be hope for other kids.

By: bfra on 2/26/10 at 10:13

Blanket - Glad you are feeling better!

By: house_of_pain on 2/26/10 at 10:16

TGIF, Blanket. I take it that you are back to work at the Happy Factory today.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 10:16

Sorry you could not get it Blanket. It was a silly get well card.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 10:17

thanks, bfra.

mama, no disrespect intended. my regards to his family.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 10:17

Happy Factory - lol! hey, after being confined to the house, this place looks like Disneyland.

aw, thanks, Nemo. ;~)

By: sidneyames on 2/26/10 at 10:19

By: mamakat on 2/26/10 at 9:05
While there are many commenting on this article who obviously have wit and style, it is a shame to digress so far from the article itself, which is well written and tells a very sad story. Just my opinion, but it really seems to show a lack of respect for the young man who just died.

Sometimes mamakat, people just get off track to ease the actual pain they might be feeling. It seems to be a defense mechanism. I doubt they intend any disrespect. I understand your feelings. I think that D7's comment started the real human aspect of the story, along with others like Capt and dooley.

But I think it's hard to dwell on his story because we all have some type of pain in our past. Just a thought.

By: sidneyames on 2/26/10 at 10:26

http://www.ajc.com/news/cobb/star-athlete-s-killer-311184.html

This story about him is so touching. The guy that killed him was at school the day he was signed to V'bilt. Then his mom "broke up" with the guy. I guess his 11 year old sister called 911 at 2 am; she saved the rest of the family.

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 10:38

I'm a little concerned about "Sid".
Like, she's been replaced by a "pod" or something similar.
For the past week, she hasn't really trashed anyone, condemned them to Hell, or basically appeared as the Anti-Christ I always thought her to be.
Either her IV drip has been turned on or she found a new pharmacist.
Either way, this current, eco-friendly "Sid", is on par with this board.

By: sidneyames on 2/26/10 at 10:44

Well, Paul, ya'll said to think about ya'll comments to me. I have. Ya'll said to make some changes. I have. Ya'll said. So I did.

You said "Either her IV drip has been turned on or she found a new pharmacist." and that was mean spirited. Apologize to me. Right now, you meanie!

Or else, I'll dig up the old sid buried in my back yard!

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 10:45

dargent you just had to fire up the old boom-box.

By: bfra on 2/26/10 at 10:48

d7 must have missed the exchanges with MamaG & brrrrk!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 10:50

sid, i think d7 was actually complimenting you in a round about way.

By: mamakat on 2/26/10 at 10:51

sidneyames said:
Sometimes mamakat, people just get off track to ease the actual pain they might be feeling. It seems to be a defense mechanism. I doubt they intend any disrespect. I understand your feelings. I think that D7's comment started the real human aspect of the story, along with others like Capt and dooley.

But I think it's hard to dwell on his story because we all have some type of pain in our past. Just a thought.
*******
I am new here, so not familiar with the ebb and flow. Thank you for a different POV and one that has validity. I like this paper and will probably be around more. It is good that in this country we can still freely share ideas.

By: brrrrk on 2/26/10 at 10:52

Funditto said

"Men who hit women - even one time - should be castrated. In public. With nothing to ease the pain."

Reminds me of the following though from Chris Rock...

"You know what they say, 'There's no reason to ever hit a woman.' Sh*t! There's a reason to hit everybody. You just don't do it. Sh*t, there's a reason to kick an old man down a flight of stairs. You just don't do it. Ain't nobody above an ass-whooping."

By: dargent7 on 2/26/10 at 10:52

Nemo: I was that kid at age 6 who, looking at the FIRE! box on the telephone pole said, "Gee, fellas, I wonder what this thing does when you pull it?"
I did, and my parent's paid a fine.
40 years later I pay women to "pull it".

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 10:57

You must still have a fever Blanket, you are trying to reason with sid. Lol

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 10:57

You know d7 you said that out loud. lol

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 10:58

yeah, i still have a benadryl high.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/26/10 at 10:58

Greetings mamakat. I hope you stay.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 2/26/10 at 11:02

did anyone hear from Dusty's family yesterday?