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Queensbridge athlete mourned by hundreds at funeral service – QNS.com

Queensbridge athlete mourned by hundreds at funeral service

By Albert Silvestri

“It is not the length of years that count, but the life in those years,” Rev. Samuel Joubert said in his opening remarks. “We are here not for a funeral but to celebrate a life.” Jefferson, a 6-foot-3 dominant high school basketball player at Brooklyn's Automotive High School, died in his college dorm room on June 21. The preliminary autopsy concluded that the cause of death was an enlarged heart.During his senior year in 2002, Jefferson led the PSAL in rebounds, was senior class president and valedictorian of his graduating class. He received a scholarship to play basketball at St. Peter's College in Jersey City, N.J. “He was not just a great basketball player,” said Hank Carter, president and founder of Wheelchair Charities, a group to which Jefferson donated time, “he was a great human being. Queensbridge is real proud of him.”Bob Leckie, Jefferson's basketball coach at St. Peter's told of how Jefferson volunteered to read to third- and fourth-graders as part of a program sponsored by the college.”Because he was so big in stature they couldn't help but look up to him,” said Leckie. “He was just a kid in a man's body. He loved mischief, loved to compete. I always knew he was special.”Jefferson's passion for his education and his affectionate, warm personality were the recurring themes of the service.”He could have used losing his father as an excuse, but he didn't,” Rev. Edgar Harkness said during the eulogy, referring to the death of Jefferson's father when he was 3 “He could have used living in the projects, but he didn't. He could have used his poor grades, but he didn't. He could have used the color of his skin or a litany of other excuses, but he did not. He had a passion.”After his eulogy, Harkness turned to Jefferson's mother, Jacqueline Jefferson, and said “you did a great job,” prompting a round of applause from the diverse audience of friends, family, teammates and coaches.”He wasn't going to just be a high school kid or just an athlete,” said Will Stasiuk, Jefferson's basketball coach at Automotive. “He was going to be a student athlete.”Though his college career was marred by injury, Jefferson completed his bachelor's degree in accounting in just three years and had planned to go on for his MBA. “He said, 'Mom, I don't promise you basketball trophies, I promise you a college diploma,'” Harkness said.In his remarks, Leckie said Jefferson's mother would receive her son's degree and that his scholarship would be given to Derrick Hooker, one of Jefferson's teammates at St. Peter's. “I swear there must have been 400 people at the wake,” Stasiuk said of Monday's calling hours, held at Crowe's Funeral Home in Jamaica. “It just shows how many lives he's touched.”

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