From the Writings of Danica Vance on JJ (2008):

It was about 9:30pm, and I had just arrived home from a late basketball practice. I was tired, sweaty, and not looking forward to the numerous homework assignments I had to do. As I walked up the stairs to my room, I saw my older brother lying on the couch in our family room. He was lying on his side, with his buzzed head buried against the pillow and his toes curled into the couch. He had been out sick the past few days with an upset stomach and headache. Without even opening his eyes, he sensed my presence and asked how my practice had gone. He loved sports more than me, and had basically taught me everything I knew.....
Read the rest of Danica's story...

From the Writings of Danica Vance on her Mother (2007):

The lion and the mouse

I have known her all my life

Yet, She has known me longer

We have fought over curfews,

We have laughed at movies

She has been my shoulder to lean on,

so many times...

From the Writings of Danica Vance on JJ (2003):

There is one individual in my life that greatly influenced my personality and character. This individual is my brother, Jeffery Joseph Vance (1984-1998), known to everyone as "JJ."From the time we were children and he used to rough me up on the basketball court to his sudden death in 1998, JJ taught me many life lessons. JJ served as my coach, mentor and archrival. Two of my preeminent qualities are my aggressiveness and competitiveness: my desire never to give up. These qualities have helped me as an athlete to be a better basketball and volleyball player, but also academically as I always push myself to do my best. These personal characteristics that I hold in such high esteem, I owe to my brother. When we were younger, we were always competing with each other in sports and academics. Since JJ was bigger, stronger and older than I was I usually ended up with a bruised knee or a lower grade. I had to learn to be aggressive and to work harder. Although it seemed hopeless as I rarely beat him, years later my tenacity has greatly paid off. My brother's sudden death on December 12, 1998 was the most devastating and significant event in my life. It showed me the importance of living your life to the fullest, as you never know what might happen. It also taught me responsibility, as now I was faced with loving and supporting two emotionally stricken parents.
The most vital lesson came from JJ himself. You see JJ was an awesome guy, one who was always nice to everyone and loved to converse. However, I never knew the extent of impact he had on other people's life until after his death. For many weeks afterwards letters came in from people all over the community. Many of the letters told a similar story; they talked about how it had been their first day at school, or they were having problems making friends and how JJ had always had the courage to come over and talk to them no matter what the situation. They described how much it meant to them to know that JJ was their friend and the impact it had on them. He touched so many people's lives by just talking to them and saying hey. It amazed me that something so little could mean so much to someone. From JJ I learned to champion the rights of others, to stand up for my beliefs even if they are not the popular ones.
Although my brother's life was short, his legacy to me was far reaching. Through him I have learned the meaning of compassion, commitment, and true excellence and have embraced these values in my every day life. -Danica Vance
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