It's been an incredibly painful week for the UB community. The passing of Solomon Jackson has left a hole in the world of all those who he touched.
Jackson has always touched peoples lives, long before he was a Bull.
"He had an infectious smile. He was an extremely hard worker, but he had a jovial smile. He was loved by everyone. I don’t think he had an enemy in the school." -- Jackson's high school defensive coordinator and head coach Bryan Lamar
"He should be remembered as an outstanding person. Sometimes, we get caught up on the football piece … To me, he’ll always be remembered as a great person. I have three boys. If my boys end up being like Solomon – the way they carry themselves – then I’ve done a great job as a parent." -- Tucker High School principal James Jackson
And at UB it went far beyond the football team.
"He’s just a warm person from that first moment, he radiated warmth and wasn’t afraid to spread that contagious smile of his." -- Mackenzie Loesing
Jackson had a peace and grace which transcended what you would expect from a 20 year old. Coaches, administrators, and adults in his life saw this.
He was always willing to help and was there for everyone. He was a Godly man raised by two parents, Steve and Jakkii, who instilled great values in him. He is loved and will be missed -- Lance Leipold
"All of us who had the pleasure and good fortune of knowing Solomon will remember him as a truly bright light on the field, in the classroom and around campus. We will remember him for his love of the game and his love of life. -- Allen Greene
Solomon always greeted me with a big smile. He made my job easy and was everything that was right about being a student-athlete.— Jon Fuller (@UBJonFuller) March 1, 2016
"If I can get them (his kids) to the point where people talk about them like people talk about Solomon I will consider myself blessed " -- Coach Tim Edwards
I have been learning from our son about what a fine person of integrity and character Solo was, what a great athlete and how much he loved the game of football. We send our deepest condolences to his family. Our faith is tested at times like these, but it is from our faith that we draw strength, knowing that Solomon is now with God and at peace. -- Peter Merchant, father of UB quarterback Chris Merchant
Joe Licata was a four year starter and a leader of this team. So when he praises the leadership of Jackson he knows what he is talking about.
Words Can't justly describe the type of person Solomon Jackson is. He is an inspiring leader through Christ, a fantastic friend, and an amazing influence on everyone he has been around.His spirit will undoubtedly live on through the people with whom he has had contact. #41 will live on forever in our hearts. -- Joe Licata
Solo was always there for his teammates, especially his roommate, Boise Ross. Ross choked back tears as he tried to pay tribute to Jackson. A testament to how much he loved his teammate, and his friend.
"He was like a father when no one was there, when I was up here and it was just me and him." -- Boise Ross
Also at the memorial service Jarrett Franklin captures so well how it came to be that so many loved Jackson.
"He was so genuine, he was so nice, he would always put other people first. Every single time in anything he would put other people in front of him. Unless it was a competition" -- Jarrett Franklin
And Jackson's love was not given with ease. Though deep pain he would serve those around him, like his little sister.
"Solomon's the best brother anyone could ever have .... he was a great person ... I remember when we first got our braces on the same day and it hurt so bad, he let me sleep in his room and took care of me even though his teeth hurt too ... I miss him" -- Solange Jackson
I've lost a friend in high school, days before graduation. If you've ever lost someone like that in your life, someone young whom you never expected to lose, than you know the loss never truly leaves you.
All you can do is carry on in a way that honors that person, and what that person brought to the world. In the case of my friend it was love of laughter, and a genuine concern for others that helped me to grow up. 20 years later I still think of her often, and I still try to honor her memory, by laughing with an infectious joy and caring about other.
In the case of Solo, for his loved ones, it's a sense of service, love, peace, and grace.
Solo will never be gone from the hearts of those who loved him and he will always be missed. But because he is so loved he will never be gone from the world and his acts of love, compassion, and friendliness to everyone around him can be passed forward for decades to come.