By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times
This is another installment in The Birmingham Times/AL.com/CBS42 joint series “Beyond the Violence: What can be done to address Birmingham’s rising homicide rate.”
Antwone Brown misses his brother year-round, but the holidays can be especially tough. During an interview with The Birmingham Times, he spoke about one particular Christmas with his brother, who he lost in 2021.
The brothers were two years apart, Antwone said: “I was like 5 and he was 7, and we stayed up all night waiting on Santa. We stayed up in the living room right next to the tree, and he never came. We finally dozed off around 5 in the morning.”
“When we woke up, still no presents,” he recalled. “My mom was in her room with the door locked, so we tried to open the door. … It wasn’t opening, so we had to knock. When we knocked, we said to my mom, ‘We don’t have any presents.’ She made us wait all day [because we had been bad in school]. We were in the living room crying, and she was on the phone with her friends laughing at us crying, knowing she got us some presents. She finally told us she got us some presents. We wiped our tears fast and ran to the presents.”
Tyree Brown was shot to death outside Birmingham convenience store on April 21, 2021.
After it happened, Antwone said, “My mind went blank. It’s like everything just stopped. … I just started crying. I try to keep my mind off of it. I try to just focus on school and graduating.”
Antwone is a senior this year at a school in Birmingham.
“I want to make sure I graduate,” he said. “My brother died before graduation. Before he could actually walk the stage, he had just died. He didn’t get to go to the prom, nothing. He was setting up, getting ready to go to the prom. He had just got his suit and taken his senior pictures and everything.”
For Thanksgiving, the Brown brothers would sometimes go to their grandmother’s house or cousin’s house for family time, Antwone said.
Since the death of Tyree, Antwone has yet to get any type of counseling: “My mom feels I need it, but I really don’t think I do. I really don’t know if it would work, but I’m not against giving it a try.”
In order to be a support to his mother, Antwone said, “I try to help out when I comes to my younger siblings. I clean up around the house, maybe wash clothes and do the dishes to take that extra load off of her.”
Antwone visits his brother’s gravesite at Patterson-Forest Grove Funeral Home and Cemetery as often as he can, and he posts about him on social media occasionally.
“I went and got his name tattooed on my left forearm.” Also, in remembrance of his brother, Antwone said, “He always smiled, so I try to keep a smile.”
For more on the Brown family, visit ‘An Unbearable Pain’: Birmingham Mother to Mark Slain Teen’s Birthday with Visit to Grave, Balloon Release (AL.com).