Friends and Family Remember Tyre Nichols for His Love of Skateboarding and Photography

Tyre Nichols Memorial Skateboarding

Photo: Screenshot from YouTube

When 29-year-old Tyre Nichols was driving home on January 7, he was pulled over for a traffic violation in Memphis, Tennessee. What occurred next shocked the nation, as body cam footage shows five officers viciously beating Nichols without provocation as he attempted to follow their orders. Though officers said he was driving recklessly, video footage shows no reason for the traffic stop. Nichols, who has a 4-year-old son, died from his injuries three days later. Five officers have been fired from the police department and charged with second-degree murder. In addition, two medical personnel who appear not to have assisted Nichols in the minutes following his attack are also under investigation.

Nichols, who moved to Memphis from Sacramento in 2020, was just minutes from his mother's house when he was pulled over. Now, his family and friends are shedding light on Nichols' personality and aspirations, determined to make him more than just an unfortunate statistic. Videos of Nichols skateboarding, posted to YouTube over a decade ago by a high school friend, have taken on new meaning.

According to friends, skateboarding was a way for Nichols to escape the difficulties of his life.  At the time, he was living in California with his father, who was terminally ill. His father succumbed to his illness before Nichols graduated high school and he then moved in with friends. Angelina Paxton, who was part of Nichols' group of friends during that time, recalls how skating helped him cope.

“He was going through a lot,” she told The New York Times. “When he skated, it’s like he wasn’t worried anymore. It was like nothing mattered more than when he landed that trick, you know?”

Nichols was also passionate about photography. On his website, he shares, “Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people. My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what I am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the ‘norm' and writing it down or speaking it.”

In a press conference, Nichols' mother mentioned his passion for photography: “He liked to go and watch the sunset and take pictures. That was his thing.”

For Austin Roberts, Nichols' childhood friend who posted the skateboarding videos to YouTube, remembering Tyre for who he was in life is important. “I want him to be remembered as the kid smiling in the skate video and not the kid that was fighting for his life,” he shared. “He always tried to bring everybody together and put a smile on anybody else's face before his own.”

29-year-old Tyre Nichols lost his life after a vicious beating at the hands of the Memphis police. Now, friends and family remember him as a “good boy” who was passionate about skateboarding and photography.

YouTube videos of Nichols as a teenager in California show his warm personality and love for life.

Nichols' mother is now raising funds to open a skate park in her son's honor.

h/t: [NPR]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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