Memorial service held for Aniah Blanchard in Alabama to remember slain teen’s ‘light’

first_imgAuburn Police Department(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) —  A memorial service was held for Aniah Blanchard on Saturday in Alabama, where relatives and loved ones remembered the “light” she brought to their lives.The ceremony at the Faith Chapel Christian Center in Birmingham was a “celebration of life.”The church was filled with dozens of Blanchard’s family, friends and members of her hometown of Homewood, where she attended their public schools and played high school softball.Most of the mourners wore Blanchard’s favorite color, baby blue, which “fit her personality — bright, big and vast as the ocean,” a member of Homewood High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps said during their alternated flag-folding ceremony in her honor.“It’s easy for me to talk about Aniah, she is my mini-me…I gave birth to her on my birthday,” said Blanchard’s heartbroken mother Angela Haley Harris. “She is the greatest gift to me.”“This memorial service is a celebration of Aniah’s life and to commemorate who Aniah was and the impact her life and ‘light’ is having on the entire world,” according to the Facebook event page created for the service. “Aniah was light, she made you feel okay when you look in her eyes,” said Noah Wail, Blanchard’s godbrother.“She was my person I would talk to when I needed someone,” he added, wiping away a tear before playing a guitar tribute to the Rascal Flatts’ “What Hurts The Most.”Blanchard was studying early childhood education at Southern Union College with hopes of transferring to Auburn University.“Aniah had a light that you wanted to be around. The light she had every day of her life is still here and is still being shared,” said Hannah Haley, Blanchard’s cousin.“Aniah is my biggest fan. She would always tell me when it came to my career it will be okay, you gotta keep going,” said Walt Harris, Blanchard’s stepfather and Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter. “So now I have to go strong for the other kids…Glad to have her in my life and how she had an impact on my life.”Amy Letson, one of Blanchard’s softball coaches, shared an anecdote of that showed “Aniah’s beautiful spirit.” After a game, Blanchard told the losing team that “she was proud of them and she could tell they worked very hard,” Letson recalled. “Together we learned to work together, work hard and be kind to others,” read Blanchard’s younger sister, Aylah, with her two older brothers by her side. “We are so happy you are our sissy.”Bill Cleveland, superintendent of Homewood Public Schools, announced establishing a scholarship that will be made in Blanchard’s honor to continue the her legacy.The family requested that in lieu of flowers, all donations be made in Blanchard’s name to: The Texas Equusearch Group, Children’s Hospital of Alabama or the Birmingham Human Society, in honor of her beloved dog “Blue.”Throughout the over two-hour service, dozens of photographs from Blanchard’s life were displayed in a slideshow along with videos of her smile that brought comfort and peace, mourners said. Blanchard was last seen at a convenience store in Auburn, Alabama, on Oct. 23. She was allegedly abducted by Ibraheem Yazeed, who authorities say shot her when she “went for the gun,” according to court documents.The 19-year-old’s body was found shot to death on Nov. 25, approximately 36 miles away in a wooded area in Shorter.A tipster led police to Yazeed, who was in Pensacola, Florida, authorities said. He was already out on $295,000 bond for a separate kidnapping case from January in Montgomery, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.Yazeed, 30, is being charged with two counts of capital murder charges in connection with Blanchard’s death. Prosecutors said they will seek the death penalty.David Johnson Jr., 63, and Antwon Fisher, 35, were also charged in connection to Blanchard’s murder, though Fisher’s charges were dropped this week because of “legal and jurisdictional grounds,” Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes confirmed to ABC News on Saturday.Johnson Jr., 63, is charged with hindering prosecution.“The investigation into the murder of Aniah Blanchard is still ongoing and we will continue to evaluate and exhaust all leads in the pursuit of justice for Aniah and her family,” Hughes said.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Spurs reward in-form Townsend

first_img The 22-year-old has come to prominence on the field recently and his fine start to the Barclays Premier League season saw him called up by England for their two vital World Cup qualifiers. Townsend scored on his full England debut against Montenegro last Friday before winning a second cap against Poland on Tuesday as the Three Lions qualified for the World Cup finals in Brazil next year. Tottenham winger Andros Townsend has signed a new four-year contract. “It’s hard to put into words how we felt at the time and we’re immensely proud of him. “The nation were quite rightly proud of their side, two important games, we reached our goal of the World Cup but unfortunately there was no time to enjoy that feeling…before the very next day we are talking about something a little bit different. “There’s disappointment. It’s a nightmare. “It’s been difficult for us at Kick if Out. I’m not sure people fully understand our role. We have an obligation to report incidents that happen and we’ve done that regardless of whether it’s international or grass-roots level. “It’s particularly difficult for me having involvement on both sides. We should be concentrating on the glories of both games.” Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas has no doubt Townsend will be able to shoulder the pressure of being England’s next big thing. The player’s place in the Tottenham squad was in doubt at the start of the season but now he is seen as England’s brightest emerging star. Jack Wilshere was afforded that tag after he burst on to the scene with Arsenal a couple of years ago while players like David Bentley have crashed and burned under the weight of expectation. Villas-Boas knows Townsend’s every move will be scrutinised over the next seven months in the build-up to the World Cup, but he is sure the player will be able to cope. “That is part of growing up as a player,” the Tottenham manager said. “I would suppose that wouldn’t divert his attention too much. “I expect him to be the same player. There are going to be more people worried about him, he will be more in the public eye and they will demand performances from him and I expect him to respond. “Most of his colleagues are down to earth, he is in the right environment for his development and I think we have to help him in that sense.” Townsend had to go through nine loan spells before he got his first crack at regular first-team football with Spurs this season. And the main reason the 22-year-old has had an extended run in the first team is because of an injury to Aaron Lennon, who is now fit and in contention for Sunday’s game at Aston Villa. Villas-Boas was concerned that Townsend’s experience with the international team would be counter-productive. The Portuguese feared the winger would go down the same route as Jake Livermore and Tom Huddlestone, who received call-ups and were then quickly discarded. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will come back into the reckoning by the time the World Cup comes around, but Villas-Boas is sure Townsend will feature for England for a long time to come as long as he keeps impressing for his club. The Portuguese added: “We’re very proud of what he has done, (we have) seen him play with so much confidence and determination he’s really set his place in the team, for Tottenham and for his country. “It’s performances like this that keep your place in the team. “Whenever he’s been called up by myself or Roy he’s given great performances. “At the moment we’re very happy with what he’s been doing and I think Roy thinks the same. ”It’s wonderful for him. He’s come along with the explosion he had in the Premier League, not just with Tottenham but with his country. ”He is doing extremely well for club and country and deserves credit.” Press Association Tottenham stated on their website: “We are delighted to announce that Andros Townsend has signed a new four-year contract with the club.” Townsend has made eight Premier League appearances this season for Spurs after picking up valuable top-flight experience at QPR in the second half of the last campaign. Prior to the 2013/14 season, Townsend had made 18 appearances for the White Hart Lane club, scoring three goals. While his on-field contribution has seen him take centre stage, Townsend has also found himself caught up in the row over Roy Hodgson’s half-time joke during the match against Poland. Hodgson made a quip about a monkey in space to illustrate why his players should give the ball to Townsend but was forced to apologise on Thursday after claims it was racist. Townsend, whose father Troy is the mentoring manager for anti-racism group Kick It Out, wrote on Twitter: “I don’t know what all this fuss is about. No offence was meant and none was taken! It’s not even news worthy!” It did, though, overshadow England’s qualification and continues to rumble on with the Football Association expressing its full support for Hodgson. Troy Townsend admitted there had been a spectrum of emotions, telling Sky Sports News: “The goal on Friday night gave us an amazing feeling and I thought he was absolutely fantastic in the hotbed of Tuesday. last_img read more

Suarez – partnership bearing fruit

first_imgLiverpool’s Luis Suarez insists he and strike partner Daniel Sturridge are trying to progress “for the future of the club”. However, having slotted back into the side seamlessly after the end of his 10-match ban Suarez is looking to drive Liverpool into the Champions League alongside Sturridge. “We are trying for progression,” he said. “He is 24 and I am 26, so we are trying our best to progress for the future of the club. “We know in the last few seasons, Liverpool have been not been in the Champions League and we know we can help the team challenge for the top four. “We will try our best but Liverpool is not only Suarez and Sturridge – it’s the whole team.” Suarez has previously said there is no competition between him and Sturridge to score the most and he admits he is enjoying playing with someone who is in a prolific run of form, with the England striker having hit 20 in 26 appearances. “I am so happy because when you have a very good striker, and a very good partner, for defenders it is difficult because they have to give their attention to two players – not just one,” he told “If maybe two defenders come towards me, this creates space for Danny. “This is important not just for me, but for the team and our confidence. “He is a very good player. He had difficult moments at Chelsea and (Manchester) City, but this is a good time for him and I am so happy with him. “For a striker, it’s more difficult (to look for a team-mate). In the area, you’re concentrating on yourself and shooting at goal. “If he shoots or if I shoot, we are both strikers and we understand. We can discuss it on the pitch but we work really well together. “Maybe in a few years I will be able to say my best partnership was with Daniel Sturridge, especially if we can continue to progress.” The pair have scored 17 goals between them since the latter signed from Chelsea in January and have shown in their link-up play they are a pairing to be feared. Suarez’s future at Anfield seemed in doubt over the summer after a £40million plus £1 bid from Arsenal and the player claiming the club had reneged on a deal to allow him to leave for a Champions League side. Press Associationlast_img read more