Tyre Nichols was a “gentle soul” who “loved to skateboard. He loved to take pictures. He liked to go see the sunset. And most of all, he loved his mother, and he loved his son,” RowVaughn Wells said of her 29-year-old son, who died three days after being pulled over by police earlier this month.
Originally from Sacramento, Tyre Nichols was living in Memphis when he died. He had a 4-year-old son.
The five police officers involved in Nichols’ arrest, who are also Black, have been charged with second-degree murder and a number of other offenses. But as the focus has shifted toward the investigation and the process of seeking justice, Nichols’s family has sought to keep his memory alive.
Nichols was the type of person who “you know when he comes through the door he wants to give you a hug,” according to the verified GoFundMe fundraising page set up by Wells.
“He had never been in trouble with the law, not even a parking ticket,” Wells wrote. “He was an honest man, a wonderful son, and kind to everyone. He was quirky and true to himself, and his loss will be felt nationally.”
Nichols would often watch sunsets from the Shelby Farms Park to the east of Memphis, and was a keen skateboarder and amateur photographer, according to his mother.
“Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way,” he wrote on his photography website, titled This California Kid. “It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people.”
“I want people to remember who Tyre was, and that’s just a great ball of energy,” his brother Jamal Dupree told The Washington Post. “Energetic, outgoing, funny, goofy, always had a smile on his face.”
Nichols was “a great kid,” his friend Rico Howard said. He told The Post that Nichols helped him to realize that “you don’t have to follow a trend to be loved. You can be yourself, you can skateboard … you can do whatever that you want to do and people will still love you.”
Nichols was tall, but a battle with Crohn’s disease left him weighing only around 145 pounds.
He was close to his parents, returning from his shift at FedEx, where he worked with his stepfather, to eat a home-cooked meal every evening. He also had his mother’s name tattooed on his arm.
“That made me proud because most kids don’t put their mom’s name,” she told a news conference earlier this week.
In the footage of the beating released Friday, Nichols could be heard screaming for his mother.
“To find out that my son was calling my name, and I was only feet away, and didn’t even hear him — you have no clue how I feel right now,” Wells said. “My son loved me to death, and I loved him to death.”
His parents say they hope to build a skate park in his memory, “in honor of his love for skating and sunsets.”
The death of Tyre Nichols
The latest: The Justice Department is launching a review of the Memphis Police Department’s use of force policies and practices. Each of the five former Memphis police officers pleaded not guilty in Tyre Nichols’ death. One of the officers texted a photo of bloodied Tyre to colleagues, according to records.
What has Memphis police footage revealed?: The race of the five officers charged in the Nichols killing has sparked a complex dialogue on institutional racism in policing. Some of the most haunting videos came from SkyCop cameras.
Who was Tyre Nichols?: The 29-year-old father was pepper-sprayed, punched and kicked by Memphis cops after a January traffic stop. He was pronounced dead at a hospital three days after his arrest. At Tyre Nichols’ funeral service, his family said they are focused on getting justice.
What is the Scorpion unit?: After the fallout from the brutal beating, Memphis police shut down the Scorpion unit.