They were trying to get things right — the mother and her teenage son. Going to be a pair again.
Look at his hair in this last picture he made for her, she says, holding up the image of her 15-year-old son, Taveon Brooks, on her phone. The smiling boy’s locks are tied up in tails and dyed red just like hers.
They did that to celebrate her birthday less than a week ago.
He told her: “Momma, I wrote new a song about you …”
The song is lost, though, before Tionna House could ever hear it. Taveon’s gone. Killed by gunfire in an assault on a car as Taveon and four other teens were out on the streets of Kansas City, Kan., at 2:45 a.m. Sunday morning.
“I’m so sorry, Taveon,” House cried in her Edwardsville home Sunday night. “I tried to do right … I got my life together … I wanted to be the mother I wanted to be.”
Taveon had been under guardianship while his mother dealt with difficulties in her life, but the family remained close.
His family doesn’t know what happened. They don’t know why he was out so late. Police are still investigating the shooting that began near North 52nd Street and Georgia Avenue, and ended as the car crashed in the same block. A female in the car was also wounded and taken to a hospital where she was reported to be in stable condition.
Taveon was a sophomore at F.L. Schlagle High School in the Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools district, where he was a point guard on the basketball team. He was making music.
“People were looking at him,” House said. “People wanted him. He was so good.”
A former teacher at Northwest Middle School, Jason Neland, remembered Taveon as a passionate writer. He loved words.
Neland shared one of Taveon’s poems — “basketball thoughts.”
big white building
beautiful small trees
in front of the red painting door with cracks running down the old place
i walked up stairs holding the rusty handles with right
holding the big bright round ball in my left . . .
“He would just write,” Neland said. “Very strong words. He’d get an idea and write. He was passionate.”
Taveon loved to surprise people with his songs, his older brother, T.J., said. Recently Taveon took up an aunt’s phone when she wasn’t aware and performed a new song in a selfie video for her to find later.
He and Taveon had made a promise, T.J. said, that when they got older and had children, the brothers would name their sons after each other.
“It seemed right,” T.J. said. “It seemed precious to me.”
The violence mounts again in 2018, with more than 30 homicides in Kansas City, Kan., more than 125 in Kansas City, approaching 200 area wide — and Taveon’s family sinks with regret that Taveon has been slain.
“He never would have been in the street if he’d been with his family,” his grandmother, Regina Jackson said. “But I can never touch him again, never see him again.”
As she mourned over her son, House held a school backpack Taveon had custom made with a picture of himself with his girlfriend — a selfie with two teenagers smiling and kissing at the camera. Beneath the picture a line of words says: “Get used to seeing us.”
House held it close in a painful grip, petting at her son’s picture.
“He was my baby,” she said. “That was Taveon. I’m not going to be the same, ever.”