Deshon L. Johnson, the 22-year-old Essex County College student killed by a NJ Transit bus last week, aspired to be a singer, rapper, artist, and writer—all while pursuing a college degree.
"He was a talented man who knew what he wanted to do with his life," said a friend, Matt Fernandez. "He was very driven and very motivated."
Johnson's life was celebrated today during a church service at Christ Church in Montclair.
Born March 5, 1990 in Newark, Johnson was raised in East Orange and was the only child of Naomi Johnson.
As a youngster, he was so talented at art that his paintings were displayed at the Montclair Art Museum when he was in the sixth grade.
Later, Johnson and his mother moved to Montclair, where he graduated from Montclair High School.
After Naomi Johnson was involved in a serious car accident, Deshon Johnson stayed close to home and enrolled in Kean University, majoring in business finance. Due to financial hardships, though, he left Kean and began attending Essex County College, spending his spare time writing and recording music.
In addition to family members, many young people attended the service today as women walked up and down the church's aisles, passing out tissues.
Before the service started, a slideshow displaying images of Deshon Johnson as a young boy was projected onto two separate screens.
"Naomi Johnson had her own accident when she was hit by a car years ago ... and her wonderful son gave up his own ambitions to stay with his mom and help her recover," said Deputy Mayor Bob Russo, a family friend. "That is a wonderful thing, and to lose him like this is a heartbreak."
Russo spoke at today's service, after which a poem was read by a family friend titled "Mother's Love."
"No matter what, I will always be here for you with my eternal love, regardless; if I am on earth or in the heavens above. With Love, from your mother."
On Wednesday morning, July 18, Johnson was rushing to catch the #709 bus to get to his job in Bloomfield when he was struck and killed by a NJ Transit Bus at Broad Street and Bay Avenue.
According to NJ Transit, an investigation into the incident is still ongoing.