PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - The sound of six-year-old KJ North’s basketball dribbling in the driveway outside his home is a sound his family wishes they could once again hear.
The Pascagoula child and his grandmother Ollie Armstrong were killed Saturday after a car crash atop the Ocean Springs-Biloxi Bridge.
Now, his family is left devastated after their loss, holding tight to the memories they left behind and taking comfort in the fact that the two of them are together.
KJ loved playing football and baseball, but his favorite was basketball. He enjoyed watching his favorite players do trick shots, and he has endless videos of himself trying to duplicate their moves.
“They let him put a basketball goal in the house and he would just show me his dunks for about 20 minutes," remembered Kimberly Armstrong, Ollie’s daughter and the aunt of little KJ. “Everyday, I would get that call. It was just so special to be able to have those six years that I had with him and I’m just going to miss him so much. That was my little buddy. I’m going to miss him so much."
While basketball was his passion, his family says he was most proud of being a big brother. “He would tell everyone that listened about his little brother, and let them know that he was his boss," according to his obituary.
KJ was a burst of energy with such a vibrant personality who loved big and never met a stranger, reads his obituary. A first grade student at Cherokee Elementary, KJ also loved school.
Sharay North said her mom and her son shared such a deep bond and loved spending time together.
“They were best friends. If she was in the car, he was in the car. If she was in the house, he was in the house with her," said North. "There were times when I would say, ‘KJ, you haven’t been very good today so you are going to stay at home. You’re not going to see your Nana today.’”
The special bond that Ollie had with her grandson was noted in her obituary.
“KJ and Ollie Mary spent most of their time together, and she loved to make him steak dinners and spoil him. There was no separating the two,” reads the obituary.
Ollie Armstrong’s love for children went beyond her own family. For 28 years, she was a special education teacher with the Pascagoula Gautier School District, impacting the lives of thousands of students. A passionate advocate for children, Ollie believed in each one of her students and worked hard to help them reach their full potential.
“We had a real life superhero," Said Ollie’s son, Antoine Armstrong. "It didn’t matter who you were, what you did, where you came from, my mom was there at any time of the hour.”
Ollie will always be remembered by those who knew her for her vivacious personality, contagious laugh, funny sense of humor, beautiful spirit, gorgeous smile, and love for helping others.
Her daughter Sharay would also go on to become an educator in the same district where her mom worked for so many years. Now, the entire PGSD community is feeling the loss of both Ollie and KJ.
And as they feel that loss, Sharay is encouraging everyone who knew her mom and her son to use Ollie and KJ’s strong bond as a reminder that life is so very precious.
“Just love while you can. Love big. Hug each other," she said. "If you are angry with a family member, go ahead and let that go today because tomorrow is not always promised. So just love people. Love people while you can.”