How do you measure the quality of a life? Is it the number of years survived?
No, it’s more likely the number of lives touched, the number of smiles plastered on faces of the people who meet you, the number of hearts grieving when you’ve left.
By those metrics, Troy Byrd lived a good life. Hundreds of people packed the Urbana Junior High School gymnasium on Friday to pay respect to Troy, his family and his memory. Urbana City Schools cancelled Friday classes so teachers could pay their respects and students could attend their classmate’s memorial services.
It was a celebration of sorts, albeit one with somber undertones.
Speakers encouraged those in attendance to remember Troy and his legacy with one of his trademarks: a smile.
“He set an example for each and every one of us: That we might love each other better, we might look beyond each other’s faults, we might come together as a unified community as we have for this occasion,” Rev. Carl Vactor said. “Not only for today, but Troy left you a message to do it every day. Every day until your last breath. To be an example of love, joy and happiness, even when you struggle in life.”
Troy Byrd died on Jan. 26 after suffering what was, according to Champaign County Coroner Dr. Joshua Richards, likely a sudden cardiac episode while playing basketball at the YMCA.
He was one day shy of his 12th birthday.
On Friday, his teammates took to the podium to share fond memories of Troy and to supply his family with mementos of their time together.
“When you think about family, it’s not always blood. It’s community. It’s the ones that ride or die for you. It’s the ones who love you and hold you up,” Coach Matt Vactor said. “It’s in times like these that we need each other. Troy was special to us because he always smiled. He let us know that through all things, you can smile. So if you think about Troy, make sure you smile.”