Jacquis Irby remembered as family man, lover of basketball


Photo Courtesy to Marquise Weatherspoon

Jacquis Irby with his brothers and mother. Jaquis Irby is remembered for his commitment to family, his uncle Daris Tinch said.

Avani Kalra and Aviva Bechky

Content warning: This article contains mentions of gun violence and death.

Jacquis Irby was always willing to protect his three siblings, his younger brother Yaris Irby said.

“He was a family person and (all) about his brothers,” Yaris Irby said. “He was a good person to be around, very encouraging and always knew how to make somebody happy.”

Jacquis Irby, 18, died from a fatal gunshot wound on April 12, following a shooting at Clark Street Beach that left two of his brothers injured. A Skokie resident, he was born and raised in Evanston. He leaves behind a one-year-old son.

His uncle Daris Tinch said Jacquis Irby often asked him questions about parenting, since Tinch was a single parent.

“He was always inquisitive and trying to make sure that he was doing it right,” Tinch said. “And always there to love on (his son).”

Jacquis Irby also loved basketball and lived “vicariously” through Yaris Irby, an award-winning high school player, Tinch said. He served as a coach and an “at-home motivator” for his younger brother, always offering pointers on how he could improve his game.

Tinch said Jacquis Irby was his brother’s number one fan.

“He was there at every game cheering him on, coaching him,” Tinch said. “They have their little thing about them being their brothers’ keepers, you know what I’m saying. He was trying to make responsible, young men out of his brothers.”

Jacquis Irby’s Facebook profile picture features his younger brother’s logo — a marketing emblem he used to try and promote Yaris Irby’s basketball career, according to Tinch. 

Yaris Irby said his brother’s support for his endeavors will always stick with him.

“My personal favorite memory was playing in my game against Evanston,” he said. “I remember hitting a three and looking over and seeing him with the biggest smile on his face.”

Growing up, Jacquis Irby spent time hanging out at the Robert Crown Community Center. There, former Evanston Community Services Manager Kevin Brown met Jacquis Irby and two of his brothers.

Brown engaged him in a program on Martin Luther King Jr.’s principles of nonviolence. He said Jacquis Irby gravitated toward the curriculum and spoke about what he’d learned at an event hosted at the Evanston Art Center.  

“When he was involved in those small groups, not only did he have leadership ability, but he also was very helpful to other young people,” Brown said. “He was a good person.”

Jacquis Irby will be remembered by the Evanston community for his commitment to family and his passion for basketball, Tinch said.  

On Friday, Jacquis Irby’s family was called and told to come to an impromptu memorial for Robert Crown. Tinch said he wasn’t involved in the planning — so he was stunned at the number of people who came to the balloon release that was arranged to honor his nephew.

“It was hundreds, if not even a thousand balloons that were let off in his memory,” Tinch said. “So I know that he’s made his mark and was very loved by the community and the youth there in Evanston.”

Tinch remembered that as a family, Jacquis Irby, his brothers and his mom would always participate in community service activities like helping with free haircut days or cleaning up after the Juneteenth festival.

Jacquis Irby did his best to get ahead despite not always having the opportunity to do so, Tinch said.

“I really want people to remember his pledge as a parent, him being a very, very good father,” he said. “I want people to remember that — you know what I’m saying — he was a family guy and always there trying to protect his brothers.”

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