Devontae Green’s friends gathered last Tuesday at the corner on Chicago’s West Side where their friend died in an accident the weekend before.
After school let out for the day at Oak Park and River Forest High, about 20 of the OPRF junior’s classmates headed to the southeast corner of Washington and Central, near where Green, 16, collided with another vehicle Saturday afternoon Oct. 25 while riding his father’s motorcycle. They hugged, cried and shared memories of their friend. Many of them knew Green since their freshmen year; others had gone to grade school with him in Oak Park.
“He was like family,” said David Green, a 16-year-old OPRF junior. “We weren’t family, but we told people we were cousins. I loved him like a brother.”
Devontae Green’s father, a Chicago police officer, was out of town at the time of the accident. Green had taken his father’s motorcycle without his permission to ride to OPRF’s home football game.
District 200 School Board President Jacques Conway, an ordained minister and former Oak Park police officer, said it was important for Devontae’s friends to come to the scene of the accident.
“They can understand that accidents happen. It’s bringing them here to get some understanding. This is where their friend took his last breath.”
Conway, also a friend of Green’s family, told the students: “Every time you come by this place, smile for your boy.”
Green, riding westbound on Washington, was hit by a vehicle heading east as the two turned north onto Central Avenue. Green initially got up and staggered to the sidewalk. He called his father on his cellphone to tell him about the accident, before collapsing.
“He had the presence of mind to call his dad,” LaMenta Conway, Jacques’ wife, told the students. “He said, ‘Dad, I wrecked your bike. His dad said, ‘It’s all right, as long as you’re OK, and we’ll talk when I get back.’
“Everybody makes mistakes and we need to know that people aren’t always going to come down on you. He was able to speak to his father before he died, and that is so significant.”
Andrew Godbold, a 16-year-old OPRF junior, knew Green since freshman year; both enjoyed riding their bikes together. “Through good and bad, we were always together,” he said.
The 15-minute memorial ended with friends placing yellow roses on the sidewalk. Afterward, they had a group hug while some knelt and prayed where he died. Green’s friends said he always had a smile on his face. Conway added that Green “didn’t have time for enemies,” noting he tried to befriend those he came in contact with. He also encouraged Green’s classmates to be a good friend to others as Green was to them.
Conway reminded them, “Don’t cry, because he’s in a better place. He had an intimate relationship with everyone standing here. That’s why you’re here.”