SEARCY, Ark. – Harding University honored the life of Botham Jean by unveiling a memorial in his honor on his 30th birthday.
The memorial that bears his image sits in front of the David B. Burks Heritage Building.
Jean was a 2016 alumnus of the University from St. Lucia who was tragically killed Sept. 6, 2018, at his home in Dallas.
Hundreds of students and faculty gathered on the University’s front lawn to honor Jean’s life and legacy.
“The pain of losing my son never goes away but we are comforted by the life that he lived,” said Allison Jean, Botham’s mother.
Harding University President Dr. David Burks, Vice President of Enrollment Steve Lake, Jean’s college minister Todd Gentry, and Botham’s mother all spoke at the dedication ceremony.
“He was a good person, not a perfect person, I was his minister, I would know,” laughed Todd Gentry. “He was a great person that made a difference in people’s lives.”
During his time at Harding, he was a member of the Good News Singers, a resident assistant, an intern for the Rock House campus ministry and a leader in Sub T-16 men’s social club. He was well known for his charismatic and powerful song leading.
“We pray his legacy will always be remembered,” said Steve Lake.
The memorial reads:
In 2011, at the age of 19, Botham Shem Jean left his home in Saint Lucia to attend Harding University. As a student, he was an influential leader participating in student government, Sub T-16 men’s social club and Good News Singers. He also served as a resident assistant, College Church of Christ campus ministry intern, and leader for student mission trips to Saint Lucia. Above all, he was known for his passionate worship leading.
In 2016, after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting and management information systems, he moved to Dallas to begin his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers. His long-term goals included becoming a partner at PwC, preaching and teaching with the Dallas West Church of Christ and some day returning to Saint Lucia to become prime minister.
On Sept. 6, 2018, 26-year-old Botham Jean died after being shot in his apartment by an off duty police officer. His death and the ensuing trial gained national and international attention.er, Brandt Jean, shocked the country with a response of grace and forgiveness by hugging her in the courtroom. “If you are truly sorry, I forgive you. I know if you go to God and ask him, He will forgive you. I want the best for you because I know that’s exactly what Botham would want—and the best would be to give your life to Christ,” said Brandt Jean.
Brandt enrolled at Harding in Spring 2020, following in his brother’s footsteps. Botham’s family continued speaking out on his behalf and for other victims of gun violence. The Botham Jean Foundation was founded in 2019 to continue his legacy of charity in both the U.S and Saint Lucia by promoting Christian intervention for social change.
“We are not alone as a community of believers, and I am comforted when I know I am not the only one doing something.”—Botham Shem Jean
In addition to the monument, two scholarships were established in 2019 and are given annually in memory of Jean.