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‘TJ’ leaves lasting legacy

MURFREESBORO – As children from Murfreesboro Youth League huddled together, little hand over little hand they shouted his name over and over.

“T.J.! T.J.! T.J.!”

And for the first time in a year Tommy “T.J.” Vaughan’s name echoed once again through out a gymnasium.

Last Saturday at Chowan University’s Jenkins Center T.J.’s number 40 Movie Time recreational jersey was retired as family, friends and spectators.

Last year the young athlete’s life was taken in a car accident, one week before his 16th birthday.

“Everyone who knew him liked him,” said April Archer, T.J’s mother.

She described her son as an outgoing teen who loved being with his family, respected his elders, was committed to his education and passionate about sports.

“He loved sports,” said Archer.

T.J., an honor roll student, played basketball and baseball for the Murfreesboro Youth League and Hertford County High School. In high school he also played his favorite sport football.

“What we’re doing is unprecedented,” said Doug White of the Murfreesboro Youth League to the crowd.

White said he had researched with North Carolina Parks and Recreation to see if a recreational jersey had been retired before. They assured him that T.J’s recreational jersey was the first to be retired in the state of North Carolina.

“He’s a running point for a different team now,” White said.

White presented T.J.’s family with a plaque in recognition.

“We will never forget this day,” said Archer.

T.J.’s jersey will be framed and hung up in Movie Time along with his picture.

White said he hopes to establish a scholarship in T.J.’s name in the future.

“He was just nice to be around,” said T.J.’s uncle, Hertford County Sheriff Juan Vaughan.

Vaughan gave credit to Archer for supporting her son at each of his games and still supporting her surviving children, Antonio, Maya and Christian in the activities they are involved with.

For Archer the moment was to remember her son and the legacy he left for others.

“I do believe if he were to leave a message he would tell young people to commit themselves, stay positive, respect their elders and keep their grades up,” said Archer. “And play sports.”