Who is Tyre Nichols | king5.com

He is a father. He loves skateboarding and taking pictures. He has a tattoo of his mother on his arm. He is 29 years old.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On most weekends, Tire Nichols would go to a city park, point his camera at the sky, and wait for the sun to set.

“Photography helps me see the world in a more creative way. It shows who I am in ways that I can’t write for everyone,” he wrote on his website. His family said he liked the scenery and loved the brilliant sunsets the most.

Nichols writes: “My vision is to take the viewer deep into what I am seeing through my eyes and lenses. “Everybody has a story to tell, why not capture it.”

Nichols, a 29-year-old father, was on his way home from taking pictures of the sky on January 7 when he was stopped by police. He was just minutes from the home he shared with his mother and stepfather, when he was killed in what authorities described as a brutal attack by five Memphis police officers, who the latter that was charged with second-degree murder and other charges.

“Nobody is perfect, nobody. But he was very close,” his mother, RowVaughn Wells, said at a news conference this week, shortly after she watched a video of her son being beaten to death. “He’s almost perfect.”

He is the youngest in their family, born 12 years after his closest siblings. His family says he has a 4-year-old son and has worked hard to be a better father. He’s an avid skater from Sacramento, California, who came to Memphis just before the pandemic and got stuck. But he’s fine with that because he’s with his mother and they’re very close, Wells said. He tattooed her name on his arm.

Friends at this week’s memorial described him as cheerful and lovable.

“This man walked into a room, and everyone loved him,” said Angelina Paxton, a friend who had come from California to Memphis for the ceremony.

Growing up in Sacramento, Nichols spent most of his time at a skate park on the outskirts of the city. It can be a difficult place sometimes for young children. But when Niko Chapman was 10 years old, his parents would let him walk to the park alone as long as they knew Nichols was there.

“You miss people who were really good to you and Tire was just a really nice person,” Chapman said. “He always makes me feel really welcome.”

Chapman’s father, Curtis Chapman, ran a youth group at a local church that often met at the skate park for pizza. Nichols quickly became a regular, bringing with him his energetic spirit and quick wits. But away from the group, Nichols often visits the Chapman home to talk about life – including getting a better sense of what it’s like to be a young parent.

Curtis Chapman said: “What drew me to Tire was just – he was real. “He would talk about being a father and his desire to be a good father and seek advice.”

There is a Bible study on Thursdays that Nichols will attend with his friend Brian Jang. One day, the group watched a lecture about how the world is filled with distractions. Jang said Nichols was so touched by it that he pulled out his flip phone and dropped it into a glass of water.

“I think it was amazing to see his maturity and commitment,” Jang said.

Jang last saw Nichols in 2018 at the food court of a local shopping mall. The two hadn’t seen each other in a while, but Jang said Nichols came up behind him and hugged him tightly as the two caught up.

Jang said, “It is really heartbreaking to see such a good human being go through such unnecessary brutality, such needless death.

His mother says she raised him to love everyone openly – until they give you a reason not to. So Nichols quickly made friends.

In Memphis, Nichols goes to Starbucks every morning and Nate Spates Jr. going to hang out with him there. They chat about sports or life. Spates was with his wife once when they ran into Nichols there, and they all talked for a few hours. Spates later said his wife commented, “He’s got a good spirit, soul, and composure.”

Nichols worked second shift at FedEx with his stepfather. Every day, they went home together at 7 p.m. break, and his mother would wait for them to eat.

Wells said she offered to buy her son Jordans, popular sneakers, but he didn’t want to.

“He was just who he was,” she said. “He doesn’t follow what everyone else is doing.”

When not working, he goes to the park to skateboard and take pictures. His website, called This California Kid, begins with the invitation: “Welcome to the world through my eyes.”

He has included in a gallery what he considers his masterpieces: bridges and tracks painted in black and white, the neon lights of Beale Street at night. He photographed the pink flowers, the sunset over the Mississippi River, the grasslands, the statues of Elvis. He highlighted another photographer’s quote: “A good photographer must love life,” it began.

After watching the video of her son’s death, she stood with her family and their attorney at the podium, trembling, to convey what the world had lost.

A lawyer described the beating in the video – “he was a human piñata” – and Wells turned his head away, burying his face in his hands.

In the video to be released Friday to the public, Nichols is heard saying he just wants to go home, the family’s attorney said. He was less than 100 yards from his mother’s house.

Attorneys described the last words Nichols was heard – calling his mother, three times.

“Oh my God,” she groaned as they talked. “Oh my God.”

She still finds herself waiting for him to come in the door every day at 7pm

“It’s not even real to me right now. “I don’t have any emotions right now,” she said. “I know my son Tire is no longer here with me. He will never walk through that door again.”

AP reporter Adrian Sainz contributed from Memphis, and AP researcher Rhonda Shafner from New York. Loller reported from Nashville and Galofaro from Louisville, Kentucky.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/who-is-tyre-nichols/507-1c800624-7ffa-46f0-91d6-db45aed6a942 Who is Tyre Nichols | king5.com

Edmund DeMarche

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