Funeral Industry News

ESPN’s Vitale to Help With Bradenton Teen’s Funeral Expenses

September 9, 2009

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ESPN’s Vitale to Help With Bradenton Teen’s Funeral Expenses

The story of a Bradenton teenager’s slaying has led a nationally known sportscaster to help pay for her funeral expenses.

ESPN commentator Dick Vitale spoke this morning with Raechelle James, the mother of Jazmine Thompson, the Bayshore High School cheerleader who was fatally shot Friday night.

Vitale said he has made arrangements with the family to help with funeral expenses. James recently lost her job and does not have insurance.

Daniel Floyd Williams, 18, has been charged with second-degree murder. After Bayshore’s football game Friday, Thompson and three other girls were in a car when Williams approached them, asked for sex, walked away, waved a gun and fired, hitting Thompson, deputies said.

“I didn’t know Jazmine. I just know what I read, and it tears my heart out,” Vitale said. “There’s no way there should be a funeral for that young girl this weekend. She did nothing wrong. She was minding her own business.”

Vitale also said he will speak with Bayshore High officials about establishing a scholarship fund in the names of Thompson and Dejuan Williams, a Bayshore graduate who was shot and killed Aug. 4.

Dejuan Williams was shot and killed in his backyard after chasing young men who had been in his house with his sister without permission.

“It really hits home when this happens in your own community,” Vitale said. “It boggles my mind how young people can get hold of guns and something like this happens. One senseless act and so many lives have been affected.”

Thompson planned to attend college and become an attorney.

“From everything I’ve heard and read, this was a wonderful young girl with a bright future and she deserves to be remembered in the best possible way,” Vitale said.

Grief counselors were at Bayshore today to help students and faculty cope with Thompson’s slaying.

On Sunday, cheerleaders on Thompson’s squad, with help from parents and other students, raised more than $3,500 washing cars to help pay for her funeral.

A viewing will be between 6 and 8 p.m. Friday at Happy Gospel Church, 1915 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton. Services will be on Saturday, although times have not been finalized.