Friends and classmates comforted each other outside the Corbin funeral home on the West Side Friday morning. Hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of 16-year-old Adrian Jones, also known as A.J. He was one of the top students at one of the city's top high schools, North Lawndale College Prep. Friends say Jones was both an outstanding scholar and athlete, but Friday, many of them were first remembering his sense of humor.
" He was amazing. Whenever he's around, no matter how bad you're feeling, you're going to be happy around him," said Chamisha Reed.
It was early in the morning last Friday when Jones and two friends drowned in the Fox River. They were attending a week-long leadership retreat at a YMCA camp in Algonquin and decided to sneak out in the middle of the night for a boat ride.
Teachers and coaches from the school say one bad decision should not affect the students' reputations, as all three teens were standout students.
"I think everyone of us should look at them as role models because they were kids of excellence. They were great leaders in our school," said Rev. Howard Brown, who was Jones's basketball coach.
Some friends made shirts with Adrian Jones's picture on the front. They described him Friday as loyal, smart and passionate.
"He had joy for life; that was his thing. I'll never forget him," family friend Frank Reed.
"This is a wonderful young man who will long be remembered for being a leader," said CPS School Board President Rufus Williams.
The other two boys who drowned, 18-year-old Jimmy Avant and 17-year-old Melvin Choice, were expected to be laid to rest Saturday.
The family of Melvin Choice has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the school, the campground and organizers of the retreat.