“In Memory of Jimmy Doan, we never knew each other, but I’d like to think we would have hit it off. This is for you.” –KJ
A Promise Kept
You don’t know how little you matter until you’re all alone, stuck in a crowded mansion in Roseville, California, where they told you when you came up for College nothing can go wrong. Only everything that could have did go wrong, and now you’re stuck here all alone, with seemingly no future in sight. And all this time you realize the one thing that has led you here is the fact you couldn’t keep any of the promises you swore to keep. You promised to stay focused, not let anyone down, never do drugs, and never give up on yourself. So what happens when you pick yourself up off the floor, go back home where you belong, and put all the bad things you’ve done in your life behind you? You learn to appreciate the promises you finally can keep, and the promises others keep as well. This is the story of Sam Alnassiri, a Wrestler from Sheldon High School, who kept his promise.
Arco Arena is a huge place, but on this night the once packed seats are somewhat empty as Pleasant Grove plays Deer Valley for the chance to face Santa Monica in the D1 State Boys Basketball Championship Game, I see one big figure in the seats above me. I go over unafraid and say hi. Sam Alnassiri’s figure is as big as they come; he’s big, tall, and looks like he could pass as a bouncer for a Night Club. For those that know him personally though he’s not as menacing as he appears; he’s kind, generous, and strives to help anyone in need.
He’s calm and relaxed today as he asks me what time Sheldon plays. When I explain to him they play at eight o’ clock, he gets aggravated, “Bro it’s only 5, we’re about to be here dummy long”. Sam’s Senior year though has anything but stressful. He’s coming off a Wrestling Season where he not only qualified for the State Championships and nearly placed, but he’s also cemented his legacy as one of Sheldon’s most successful Wrestlers. And though he’s disappointed he didn’t place everyone I come into contact with couldn’t be more proud of him. Especially when you think about how he got there in the first place. Sam enjoys where he stands in life, the only thing he wishes is the person he did all this for could be here with him to see it.
“He was a Brother to Me”
Sam gets hungry, I get hungry, I haven’t eaten in days, try living off a College Budget and see how far you get off Pop Tarts and Gatorade. “I’m getting whatever you’re having ” he tells me. Only I lose my appetite once I see the prices.
K : They’re trying to charge people $ 4.50 for a Bottled Water? This is theft.
S: Really though bro, this is not cool at all.
Eventually he settles on Chicken Tenders with fries and I get a bucket of Popcorn. That’s when he begins to talk about his best friend. Immediately you just see his mood go crazy happy, I’ve never seen anything like it. “Everyone liked Jimmy, he was cool with everyone, just had this upbeat personality to him”, he continues to tell me about who Jimmy Doan was. His favorite color, how he spent the night at Sam’s house almost every night, the great times they shared together, how he pushed Sam in ways he never could have imagined, “I knew I was going to get to the State Championships, I just didn’t know when, Jimmy always told me I could do it, he kept me motivated “. Sam tells me about Jimmy’s desire to become a Cop, and how his main Goal was for his Mom to see him Graduate and walk across the stage, “he wanted her to watch him get his diploma so bad” Sam says, “Every time he’d come over his Mom would call and ask where he was at, but he would say it was alright because he was with his Second Family, Jimmy was like family, the only thing separating us was blood”. I never knew him personally, but the way Sam opens up about him he makes me wish I had. “You would’ve liked him” he continues, “everyone liked Jimmy”. When I ask him if there was one memory that was his favorite Sam can’t pick one, “too many great memories for me”.
K: You loved him didn’t you?
S: With all my heart, he was like a brother to me.
We get to our seats, Sam goes to claim the bottom row in the Sheldon Student Section. I leave to finish some things I have to do, but I keep the thought of what he’s told me in my heart.
With Tragedy comes Promise
Stephanie Gonzalez, like Sam, was one of Jimmy Doan’s closest friends. I track her down and get her phone number. I begin to tell her what I’m trying to get accomplished, she agrees to help me out. “I’m definitely on board”. Everything Sam told me is just a confirmation when I text Stephanie. “Jimmy was just full of life, he enjoyed every moment” she tells me anything I ask her, she also sends me most of the pictures that you see in this Article. It’s always been my theory when you love someone so much it doesn’t matter if they are alive or passed, you talk about them like they always will be with you. Then we talk about the day, and the mood goes somber.
On September 24th, 2010, Jimmy and all of his closest friends went over to a friends house to hang out. No one knew that Jimmy hadn’t eaten or drank anything the whole day, “he was trying to cut weight” Sam tells me. The boys participated in Boxing Matches, when all of a sudden Jimmy suddenly had trouble breathing. “He was struggling to breath, and all of a sudden he just passed out on the ground, and we all got scared” Sam remembers. They rushed him to the Hospital immediately. While traveling to the Hospital, Sam got pulled over by a Cop who would let them go, but when he got there it was a somber mood. Stephanie remembers how she heard the news, “I got a call that he was in the Hospital and freaked out, when I got there everyone was waiting for the Doctor to give them news on his health, The Doctor came out and said they were trying to revive him and went back in the room”. Then the terrible news came, the Doctors weren’t able to revive him, Jimmy was gone. “When I heard that I was in denial, complete denial. I didn’t want to believe that he was actually gone” Sam tells me, “The Worst day of my life”. Tears rolled down his face, he couldn’t stop crying, no one in the waiting room could stop crying. To this day it still pains Sam, “he just had so much promise, he was going to do great things with his life, he didn’t deserve to die”. Jimmy Doan’s death marked a string of back to back years where Sheldon students died. Christopher Dickerson died the next year in a car crash. The news of Jimmy’s death came on a Friday, with many finding out during that weeks Football Game. People cried, people hugged, and people left. Stephanie remembers the mood of the Hospital, “it hit everyone really hard”. To this day Sam has the clothes Jimmy wore the day he passed away, he also is in possession of four friendship bracelets that the two share. In the ensuing days Jimmy was remembered heavily by friends, family, and teachers. Yet not even the funeral could help Sam deal with what transpired, “the worst was when they put him in the ground, because that was when I actually knew he was gone for real”. Those next couple days at school were the hardest for Sam. He hardly talked at all, didn’t answer questions, he just missed his best friend. “Everywhere you went, you just had memories of him, and it was hard to deal with”.
That Wrestling Year Sam was disappointed in himself that he didn’t qualify for State, with everything going on it was too much. Yet he was on a mission his Senior Year to achieve his Goals and make good on his promise “When Senior year hit, I was totally focused”.
Sam trained rigorously that Summer, and he started out his Senior Campaign that year with 20 Wins and 0 losses. “I was in the zone, every match I cried before I won, because I knew in my heart he was with me. And I would say to myself yeah Jim we’re doing this together”. Sam accomplished what he had set out to do, he got to the State Tournament. He even ended up pinning rival Wrestler Jeff Camilli of Ponderosa to win the Delta River League’s 287 lb. Weight Class Division on February 9th. “First time I ever beat him, I was so hyped” he tells me, “that was when I knew I’d get to the Championship Tournament”. When I ask him if he’s proud it’s bittersweet, he wishes even though that he’s proud of getting to the Second Day of the State Tournament that he had placed for Jimmy, “I just feel like I could have done so much more, but at the same time I know that he’s proud of me regardless”. I know better though, he’s a hero to everyone that understands his story, and a winner in my book.
Death is cruel. She takes the people we love the most from this Earth in an instant. With no warning, no notice, and leaves us no time to adjust or cope with the fact that we’ve lost a friend, family member, or loved one. Before I take Sam home, we travel to the Sheldon High Memorial. It stands next to the School Library, with a path of cobblestones that leads you to it. There on the Memorial stands all the names of deceased people that attended and/or Graduated from Sheldon High School. I find Christopher Dickerson’s name. This hits me hard. The fact that he was one of the first people to tell me I had talent before anyone had recognize it haunts me to this day because he’s not here to see the man I’m becoming or see me working to achieve my goals.
Sam and I stand next to the Monument block that shows Jimmy’s name and take pictures. He pauses and smiles, “I love the fact that they’re doing something to remember him by, that’s amazing”. I ask Sam what he thinks about when he passes by it. “Him, everything he stood for, all the great times we had, I will never forget Jimmy, but the monument always makes me happy because now he will never be forgotten”. I ask Sam what’s one thing he wants people to know that didn’t know who Jimmy was before this. He pauses and tells me, “that he was just an all around great person, and that I miss him and love him very much”.
Sam made good on his promise, which is all you can ask of a young Man that has been through what he has in the last two years. It’s why people love him, it’s why people show respect, it’s why I did this story on him and Jimmy. It’s why I appreciate his kept promise.
Jimmy Doan, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that everyone loves you and everyone misses you very much, see you in Heaven soon.
August 6th, 1993- September 24th, 2010