Antwion Ball, a respected former Baltimore City Schools mathematics teacher who preached self-respect and achievement in his young Black male students, died of complications of diabetes and COVID-19 Nov. 27 at the Comfort Suites Hotel in the Inner Harbor. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 43.
“He told Black boys you can be somebody,” said his sister, Shavone Ball. “He told them, once you have an education, it can’t be taken away.”
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Theodore Ball Sr., a caterer, and his wife, Rosalind Moore, a child care operator. He was raised on Melvin Drive and later on Gilmor Street and also lived in Edmondson Village.
He was a graduate of Edmondson-Westside Senior High School, where he played football, and earned a bachelor’s degree at Coppin State University. He also attended St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.
He was known by his friends by the nickname “Busta.”
He became a math teacher and taught at the Mary E. Rodman School in the North Bend area, Mount Royal Elementary School in Bolton Hill and the Sojourner Douglass Charter School in downtown Baltimore.
“Antwion was always friendly and personable. He was all about relations. He was your friend forever. He was about helping and giving,” said Joe Brooks Jr., a friend from their first year of high school who lives in Joppa. “We went to the Gilman School Upward Bound program, and while we were in that program, he sort of turned into a mentor in the younger kids. He later worked there. It makes sense that he became a teacher, even though that was not his plan initially.
“It came natural with him to work with kids,” Mr. Brooks. “It was second nature to him. He did not want today’s kids to go through what he did.”
A cousin, Corey Jay Johnson, said, “He always had a smile on his face. He loved music too and is known to get everybody started on the dance floor. He would dance until his shirt was wet. He liked the house and club scene. Years ago, he liked Hammerjacks.”
Mr. Johnson also said, “He had friends from all walks of life. People would ask him to tutor their kids. His primary subjects were math and biology. He knew math like the back of his hand. He had a way of relating to kids to get them to understand math issues.”
He was also the director of the Paul Robeson Academic International School of Excellence (P.R.A.I.S.E.) Academy College Readiness Program, a Saturday school for at-risk students. The academy operated for nearly a decade at the Johns Hopkins School of Education in Charles Village.
“Antwion was a person who cared about everybody, but his biggest mission was working with our young boys,” said Bettye Blaize, administrator of the Cambio Group educational consultants. “He spent hours working with our young men. There was a time when because of funding we nearly shut down, but Antwion said we are going to finish what we started. He worked without pay and saw that year’s class graduate.”
She also said that at a recent virtual service for Mr. Ball many of his students were overcome emotionally.
“They just could not speak,” she said. “It was so painful. Antwion had a love for getting people to that next step in their lives.”
“It show how much they cared about him,” she said. “Antwion also spoke at the National Youth At Risk Conference in Savannah.”
“Antwion was a our most loyal staff member,” said Dr. LaMarr D. Shields, who was previously with the P.R.A.I.S.E. Academy. “He was so consistent, and he insisted in engaging our boys, which we called our scholars, with their parents.”
Most recently Mr. Ball left the Baltimore City Public Schools and taught briefly in the Baltimore County system and in Washington, D.C. His last post was doing virtual instruction for a school in Harlem in New York City.
His friends and students held a candlelight vigil for Mr. Ball Thursday evening.
A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 15 at the Wylie Home, 701 N. Mount Street