MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A night meant for celebration is a bittersweet reminder for one Southwest Memphis family that their loved one is no longer here.

Ja’Kobe White, a victim of gun violence, would have been graduating from high school on Friday but he was killed two years ago at the age of 16.

Ja’Kobe’s mother Michelle Collins and her family are choosing to remember Ja’Kobe and celebrate what would have been a great milestone alongside his former classmates.

“I had to deal with him not attending prom, I had to deal with him not attending class night. And tonight, he’s not able to walk across the stage,” Collins said.

Collins lost her son on May 2, 2021, when he was gunned down in a car on Masterson Road in Southwest Memphis.

“They took something away from me when they took his life,” Collins said. “And the angry part about it is he wasn’t even the intended target.”

The school left an open seat for Ja’Kobe and presented Collins with his diploma. Even though he didn’t walk across the stage, he leaves behind a legacy cheering for him.

📧 Sign up for WREG newsletters and have the latest top stories sent right to your inbox.

📲 Download the WREG App today and stay up to date with breaking news and weather.

📡 See more breaking news, local news and weather from for Memphis and the Mid South.

“I know he’s shining bright, he’s looking down on us tonight, and he’s telling his mom to push on. So with that being said, my champion lives on and tonight we’re gonna celebrate him,” Collins said.

The family had a cutout of Ja’Kobe, wearing a sash and graduation cap, saying “I did it from heaven.” 

“He’s attending Heaven University and I’m at peace with that,” Collins said.

The death of Ja’Kobe is a case that has still not been solved.

If you know anything about this incident, you are urged to call CrimeStoppers at 901-528-CASH.