There wasn’t a seat left in St. Stevens Baptist Church on Saturday for the funeral of De’Earlvion Whitley, known as Little Earl, the 4-year-old boy killed at home July 20 in what police believe was a gang-related drive-by shooting.
At the front of the church, stood a little white coffin surrounded by blue and white flowers.
Ushers struggled to find room for all those who came to support the child’s parents, Earl and Cyntwanisha Whitley, adding chairs to the ends of pews, taking people behind the pastors to sit in the choir chairs and directing stragglers to stand in the back.
“We want to celebrate today our young lad, young boy, young baller, young superhero,” said Rev. Charles Biggs, one of several pastors who participated in the service at the East Side church. “The good thing about Little Earl, he wasn’t at the age of accountability. God has him covered.”
Many of the mourners were wearing something blue, from headbands to sneakers, in honor of the child, as requested by family.
“We are choosing to remember our happy times with him and he loved football,” said Brandy Sheppard, whose son was one of Little Earl’s Texas Spartans teammates. “He absolutely loved football.”
Sheppard told a story about the boy struggling with pulling flags one day during practice. In an effort to help him get better and get his smile back, she offered a deal.
“For every flag he pulled, I would give him candy,” she told the crowd, smiling at the memory. “He probably pulled 10 flags that day and he earned that big bag of Starbursts.”
SOURCE: Janelle Polycn