‘Jayion wanted to be my hero’: Mother of 13-year-old who drowned remembers his big dreams, big heart

photo by: Contributed photo

Thirteen-year-old Jayion Harris-Jordan was a familiar face in his East Lawrence neighborhood. The Liberty Memorial Central Middle School seventh-grader drowned after swimming near the Clinton Lake outlet Thursday evening.

On the last day Jalisa Jordan spent with her eldest son, Jayion Harris-Jordan, he was wearing a red basketball jersey with “Called to Greatness” printed on the front.

That was a perfect description for Jayion, his mother said. The charismatic 13-year-old had big dreams of being a performer, she said, and was always there for his family.

“Jayion wanted to be my hero,” Jordan said. “He wanted to make me proud.”

Now, Jordan and her five other sons are mourning Jayion, who drowned on Thursday while playing near the Clinton Lake outlet.

“We were just going to the lake for a family day,” said Jordan, who was wearing Jayion’s red jersey on Saturday when she spoke with the Journal-World.

Jordan said Jayion and four of his five younger siblings were all having fun playing and jumping into the water. But then she saw Jayion’s hand fly up in the air like he was doing the backstroke, and the boy disappeared.

Tyrone Pointer, Jayion’s 10-year-old brother, later told Jordan that he went underwater with Jayion — the two were holding hands. But then Tyrone said Jayion let go of him.

The younger boy told Jordan that if Jayion had kept holding on, he thought they both would have drowned.

“My 10-year-old keeps telling me Jayion saved his life by letting go,” Jordan said.

An extensive search by first responders that lasted all evening couldn’t find Jayion, and the next morning, his body was recovered near Clinton Lake’s outlet.


Jordan, now 28, was 14 when Jayion was born. She said she felt like they grew up together. Helping her raise him was his legal guardian, also named Tyrone Pointer. Jordan and Pointer are separated now, but she said he always had a big role in Jayion’s life.

Another constant in Jayion’s life, Jordan said, was his big dreams and big ideas. The teen, who’d just finished the seventh grade at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School in May, wanted to become a poet, a rapper and an actor. But the most important thing for him, she said, was his strong faith.

“He loved the church and he loved God,” she said.

In the family’s East Lawrence neighborhood, Jayion was a familiar face.

“He loved talking to people; he didn’t have a stranger in his life,” Jordan said. “Jayion was going to get into your heart one way or the other.”

She described her son as a peacemaker.

“He didn’t hold grudges. He believed it was OK to let go and forgive,” she said.

Through the crisis, Jordan said, she and her loved ones have been held up by many people whose lives Jayion had touched, including the other members of the congregation at Redemption Hill Church, 200 W. Ninth St.

“This is not my hurt alone,” she said. “He had so many people in his life, and they are grieving too.”

Funeral arrangements for Jayion are still being made and will be announced at a later date.


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