Under normal circumstances, hundreds of people whose lives were touched by Evanston basketball standout Ryan Bost would have come together for the celebration of his life on Nov. 22 at Christ Temple Church, 1711 Simpson St. Instead, in-person attendance at the service was limited to family members to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Yet, the Evanston community found ways to honor the life of the 20-year old ETHS graduate while respecting the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
A video of the memorial service hosted by the church has been viewed more than 2,000 times on YouTube.
Friends, classmates, teammates, coaches and others followed strict physical distancing and mask requirements at a viewing held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 21 at Thompson Funeral Services at 1917 Asbury Ave.
Members of the Evanston community and beyond stood in solidarity with the families of Ryan Bost and Jacob Blake at 1 p.m. on the same day outside the Bost family home. Candles, balloons, flowers and photographs have filled the front yard since Nov. 10, when a candlelight vigil was held the day after Ryan Bost was fatally shot while sitting in the back seat of a car parked in the 6700 block of North Newgard Avenue in Chicago.
Both Ryan Bost and Jacob Blake are from Evanston families with a long history of community service. Both men are recent victims of gun violence. Jacob Blake was severely injured after being shot seven times in the back by a Kenosha, Wis. police officer on Aug. 23.
Activist Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, represented the Blake family, speaking to a group of 40 people, all wearing face coverings, assembled along the walkway and parkway of the home where Ryan Bost lived with his parents and two brothers.
“This was a great young man. He, with his teammates, took Evanston Township High School downstate twice, in 2018 and 2019. We didn’t get to see half of all the good stuff that was going to come out of this young man. And that’s a shame. …
“We need to make 2021 a peaceful, prosperous year in the African American communities in Evanston, Kenosha, Waukegan, Chicago and Milwaukee – from the Midwest out. We’re going to do it through love. You see these people out here. They could have been anywhere today. But they chose to stand on principle, that a young man riddled down at 20 years old is unacceptable. … We’re going to march with our heads up in a proud manner, representing all our ancestors, representing [the late] Coach Bost, who held this whole couple of blocks down.
“We’ve got to believe in something. So let’s believe in each other. … We can make change…I’m not Justin Blake today. I’m a Bost today, and I’m here for the Bost family. Anything we can do to make it better on them right now, this whole crowd is willing to do. We care about our neighbors, we care about our friends, and we damn sure cared about little Ryan. We’re going to step out on that corner, and say a prayer. We love you all. Peace and love,” said Mr. Blake.
He led the group on a half-mile march from the Bost home to Thompson Funeral Services, where Gabrielle Henley was among those who waited in a line that formed along the side of the building, with visitors entering one at a time.
Ms. Henley wore a memorial hoodie with photos of Ryan Bost and his jersey number 24 on the front. “I’m very close with his younger brother, and my two older brothers were very close with him. They played for the same teams, grew up in the same community. I had [this hoodie] made a couple of days ago. … I’m going to be wearing it for the whole weekend. I’ll be wearing for a real long time. Keep his legacy alive. I know that’s what he would have wanted,” said Ms. Henley.
On Nov. 23, a funeral procession commenced at House of Thompson at 9:45 a.m. A long line of cars proceeded to Sunset Memorial Lawns in Northbrook, where a young man who was known for his selflessness on and off the court, was laid to rest.