The day Ananias Jolley was stabbed at high school, his mentor said, Jolley had been pulling pranks again. This time, the teenager had comically donned a jacket that belonged to a tiny 90-pound girl.
"That's who he was. It was natural humor," mentor Corey Witherspoon told the hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday for Jolley's funeral. "It wasn't like he was trying to make people laugh. He was funny. He was joy."
The standing-room-only crowd for Jolley's funeral included Baltimore Mayor Stephanie-Rawlings Blake, city schools CEO Gregory Thornton and other local elected officials memorializing the jovial teenager from the McCulloh Homes housing project who was fatally attacked in a public school designed to help high-risk youths transcend their circumstances.
After the service, Witherspoon recounted how Jolley, 17, gasped for air and stumbled into his arms after being stabbed by a classmate at West Baltimore's Renaissance Academy a few days before Thanksgiving. Witherspoon said Jolley was stabbed in the heart, and he struggled to stanch the bleeding.
Hours later, Jolley's classmate Donte Crawford,17, was arrested and charged with attempted murder. Police said he had paced outside Jolley's biology class before charging in with a knife.
Jolley died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center on Dec. 20, nearly a month later. Crawford remains in jail without bond awaiting a Jan. 14 arraignment. Prosecutors are considering new charges.
In separate statements read aloud to the crowd on Saturday, Thornton and Rawlings-Blake pledged to help the family move forward. Thornton described Jolley as a charismatic, high-energy young man with a winning smile.
Jolley's family said he was the second of four children and aspired to go to college to become an architect. His maternal grandmother, Jeannette Simon, said Jolley "had an entrepreneurial spirit and was always looking for ways to make a dollar."
She said he was also generous and kind, "often offering his mother's couch and contents of the refrigerator to a friend with no place to lay his head for the night."
Renaissance Principal Nikkia Rowe described him as a "great kid" and "incredibly intelligent" with "an infectious smile."
"Every time I got a cheese steak from Legends, he convinced me to give him half," Rowe recalled. "On my worst day, I knew that his smile would give me hope."
Rowe urged the dozens of teenagers in the crowd, many wearing hoodies or T-shirts silk-screened with a montage of Jolley's photos, to honor their classmate by graduating from high school.
Fights broke out immediately after Jolley's stabbing Nov. 24. Officials closed Renaissance Academy the day afterward and reopened nearly a week later with counselors on hand.
Jolley's grandmother said the candlelight vigil students held for Jolley the night after he died reminded the family that Jolley was a symbol of hope for the other students, who she said are often unfairly described as "broken children."
"You are not broken," she said. "Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Ananias was not broken. ... It is not you that is broken. It is the system that is broken. You are the most precious thing that we have."