MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN)- It’s supposed to be a joyous occasion, high school graduation, a major milestone in a young person’s life. Instead, for seniors at Riverdale High School, and the people who love them, the night was marred by tragedy.
Sunny Gant, 18, was loved by many, his mother describing him as funny and loving. He was a football player, and a best friend to his younger siblings, now gone.
Less than 10 minutes away from where the shooting happened, time stood still, while friends and family, took a second to share their favorite memories during a vigil held in Sunny Gant’s honor.
“Sunny always had a smile on his face, Sunny always brightened a room,” said Will Kriesky, the Riverdale Head Football Coach.
“I think I’m going to miss that the most, that positivity. I’m going to miss that the most,” said Natalie Gant, as she remembered her favorite moments about her son. “He just always had a smile and was always ready to laugh and joke, he was a prankster, he knew better than to prank me but he just always had this light.”
Gant likes to think about the good times, but sometimes it’s hard not to remember the phone call from her son that changed her life.
“He’s like ‘you need to get to Murfreesboro,’ and I was like ‘for what, what’s going on?’ and he was like ‘Sunny’s been shot.’ In a mother’s mind, it’s like that can’t be my son,” said Gant. “On the drive there you are literally rationalizing in your mind like ‘this is not real, this is not my child, they got my child confused with someone else this is not my baby.'”
Less than 24 hours after the shooting happened outside of the Murphy Center, after the Riverdale graduation ceremony, all anyone can think about is their love for a smiling 18-year-old.
“He was really like family to me,” said CJ Johnson, a friend, and teammate of Sunny’s. “He was just funny. That’s the one word I could describe him by.”
“There’s a lot of negativity that’s going on in today’s society and Sunny always saw the positive things, he always looked at the positive things it could be the worst situation out there and Sunny would make it positive and he always made you laugh,” Kriesky said.
At times during the vigil, the words were hard to find, but the message was clear, that Sunny is missed.
“They told me somebody got shot, I’m thinking oh okay I guess we’ll get over it, but when it hits home like that you don’t know how close it can hit to home, and then I heard Sunny’s name and I didn’t think I could cry anymore. I heard Sunny’s name and I broke down crying,” Johnson said.
During this dark time, it’s hard to smile, but when friends want to laugh, they simply think about Sunny, and how funny he was. His mother told News 2 if she could say something to her son now, “like right now I wish he would have listened to me, but I love you Sunny. I’m going to miss you and I know your mad at me for crying because I always told him, you better not cry for me, you better turn up for me, you better celebrate me, celebrate my life and I know that’s what he wants.”