Donald Randolph Brown III, also known as Trey, was celebrated on Sunday evening at Pico Canyon Elementary School where dozens of people showed their love and support for the Brown family.
Upon arrival, there was a table with purple and white flowers, live Monarch butterflies on display next to a portrait painting of a young brown boy with an infectious smile and dimples that were hard to miss. The butterflies, representing hope, were set free while the sun was setting by two parents and their three children honoring their son and older brother who lost his life earlier this year: Donald Randolph Brown III, also known as “Trey.”
Dozens of people arrived at Pico Canyon Elementary School to celebrate the life of Brown. Some attendees wrote messages of support for his family to keep, while others wore shirts that had the words “Remembering Trey” in the front and had a purple heart with a semicolon and the words “Trey loves you” in the back.
Those in attendance were Brown’s former classmates and friends, school teachers, and everyone else who crossed paths with Brown during his 16 years of life. Brown died on June 30.
Among the people present were dozens of adolescents who went to school with Brown. Holding three different pictures of him, they all took a photo on the playground apparatus they played on just a few years ago. Brown graduated from Pico Canyon Elementary School in 2019.
The father of Trey, Donald Brown, opened the ceremony by thanking their community for the overwhelming amount of support they have received in the last few months. He shared personal stories about his son, joked about his confidence and charisma, and the multi-talented individual that he was.
“He was exceptional at everything he tried,” said Donald.
Trey played numerous sports growing up, dabbled in modeling, was a gifted student who didn’t really study to succeed in academics and loved fashion, always trying to own the hottest shoes in the market, said Donald. Trey dreamed of one day starting a clothing line.
Everyone in attendance was quiet, holding onto every word Donald spoke during his emotional speech about his son. Some people shed tears, while others hugged one another for comfort.
“Some days are better than others, every day has tears, some days have more tears than others, but we’re all working hard as a family to recover,” said Donald. “Shiloh, Madison and Ruby, losing your brother was hard enough. I know that you lost a little bit of your mom and dad … Mommy and I want you to know that we are so proud of you for your grace that you’ve shown the past four months,” Donald said to his three children sitting with their mother Christine Brown.
Donald also shared advice to the parents present. He said to have more communication with their children and to constantly check up on them even when something may not seem wrong.
A video montage of Trey’s community was projected on a screen in the middle of the track field. Trey’s friends shared personal messages through videos and expressed what a great friend and person he was.
After the video montage, Audrey Kim led a Bible reading before four speakers individually walked up to the podium to share tributes about Trey.
Also speaking were Trey’s former Pico Canyon school teachers Christine Yoo and Bryan Eifert, also known as Mr. E, Katie Taveras, a close friend of Trey, and Brian Ellsworth, a longtime neighbor of the Brown family.
“I can still remember the first time I met Trey … Trey nervously entered my classroom. As he introduced himself his presence instantly captured my attention. His beaming smile and adorable dimples illuminated the room,” Yoo said. “Little did I know that this smile would become a constant in my life. No matter how good or bad our days were, that same smile always radiated from him.”
“It wasn’t just his smile that left … a mark on my heart. It was his gentle nature and innate ability to make those around him feel cherished and valued. Trey possessed an extraordinary gift,” Yoo said.
“Trey was a once-in-a-lifetime student,” said Eifert emotionally. “One of the main things that people noticed about Trey was his remarkable smile … I became a teacher because I wanted to fill the role of a big brother or father figure to young students. Although Trey didn’t necessarily need me at that capacity our friendship allowed us to create a bond that was like family to me. He (Trey) always had the coolest kicks … but it was that smile that brightened up my day.”
He recalled a memory during spring break where Eifert and his wife took 30 sixth-grade students of Pico Canyon and their parents to Boston and New York City. For many students it was the first time they traveled on a plane or left the state. On the five-day trip, Eifert created a bond with Trey and his family.
“I miss that smile, and I miss Trey dearly,” said Eifert. “I’ll get to see that gorgeous smile one day when we meet again.”
Towards the end of the ceremony, a slide video with various photos of the Brown family was played for everyone, and a candle lighting moment was held for Trey.
The Brown Family continues to honor Trey’s legacy through the Trey Loves You Foundation. The foundation aims to share his story and provide mental health resources and support for individuals.
For more information on the Trey Loves You Foundation: https://treylovesyou.org/.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a crisis, reach out immediately to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741. These services are free and confidential.