BETTENDORF, Iowa -- Jason Blair Roberts was known to friends and family for his big smile, his kind spirit, and his service to others. In June 2018, he also known as the victim of a senseless shooting, killed when he tried to intervene in a fight outside a Davenport bar.
Now a graduating seniors will get to know him through a scholarship established in his name.
"The scholarship was started after Jason’s tragic death," Anne Calder, Vice President of Development at the Quad Cities Community Foundation says. "His family wanted to do something to memorialize his life. So they came to us and talked about opening a scholarship in his honor, in his memory, that will forever make a scholarship award to a student graduating from the Davenport schools."
LaDrina Wilson, Dean of Students at Scott Community College, and a board member of the Quad Cities Community Foundation, says the gesture exemplifies how Jason Roberts and the Roberts family have always lived.
"It’s really easy to be consumed by sadness when you lose someone untimely and you lose someone in a manner that this community lost Jason. But in a true testament of how they lived their lives and how their parents raised them, they went into, “How can they turn this into something positive?” she tells News 8.
Wilson got to know Jason Roberts and his family through her family's love for basketball. Roberts was a volunteer coach with the Young Lady D's basketball program, a feeder program for Davenport Central High School, while her husband Jadiem Wilson served as the assistant coach.
Roberts coached Wilson's two older daughters, Aniya and Brooklyn.
"He treated all the girls as if they were his own. He was just a good guy," she remembers.
"He had high expectations for them. He poured into them so it wasn’t expectations without support. He would pick the girls up, give them rides," she adds. She says he wanted to make sure they have an opportunity to be a part of something.
For the Young Lady D's, it's their first season without their beloved coach.
"It’s been a transition for those girls, because he’s been coaching them since 2nd or 3rd grade. So they associate basketball and teamwork with Jason," she says."
The Jason Blair Roberts scholarship will award $500 to a minority student graduating from Davenport Central High School, where Roberts went to school. Students must show involvement in extracurricular activities or volunteerism.
"We hope they’ll learn the story of Jason, which we’ll share with them, learn the story of his life, and what was important to him," Calder says of the scholarship recipients to be. "We hope they’ll live out those qualities that Jason lived in his life in the Quad Cities and they’ll incorporate in their lives and pass it on."
This year's graduating Davenport Central seniors have until March 29 to submit their application through the Davenport Schools Foundation's website.
Calder says that as the memorial funds grow, another $500 scholarship will be made available to a minority senior from a Iowa high school who goes on to attend Black Hawk College in Illinois.