A Star is Born….

Me and Julian Benson

I was out of town when I got a frantic call from my assistant, in the wee hours of the morning, on Thursday saying, “Julian is dead!” Those were not the words I expected to hear; when I heard them, they cut right through my dazed sleep, to my heart, and the tears started to flow. He had just texted me on Tuesday to tell me that he missed and loved me, and had a vision for his “Where Is Julian?” campaign that he wanted to share with me.

You see Julian was a former 92Q intern that I took under my wing. His charismatic spirit was evident the first day we had him in the studio. I was always tough on Julian, because he was a fearless college student, bright-eyed and busy-tailed, ready to face the world head on. He reminded me of myself at his age- presumptuous and driven.  My tough love was to show him that he didn’t know everything, and that hard work was necessary to reap the benefits in any profession. He took a liking to me because I saw through the charm and demanded substance.

After radio, Julian helped me grow my company. He saw the harsh realities of the industry when he came to work one day and there wasn’t a morning show to intern for anymore. He was devastated. We had become a part of his life, and he was learning so much from each personality on the show. We had made such an impression on him that he talked about us all the time to other Morgan students, and they began to want to intern with me, because they wanted the same learning experience. Over the course of three years, I pushed and encouraged his ambition, but also brought him back down to Earth when I felt his head was getting too big. He was not just my mentee; he was my little brother. He would often talk about the future; he couldn’t wait to be successful, often saying to me, “Watch! I’m going to grow up and be like the guys you and your friends date.” I would smirk and reply, “Gotta get your weight up, youngin’.”

My humbling comments never deterred Julian; they made him strive for more. When Morgan State crowned him Mr. Morgan, he was determined to make an impression during his tenure. Bursting with ideas, he would sound them off to me on the phone to get my opinion and approval. He always wanted to check with me because he had so much respect for me, and vice versa. I always knew he was a star and that he would go far. He just needed a little guidance. His supercilious behavior was often deceiving to most, but underneath the façade was a young person hungry for direction.

Being Mr. Morgan was important to him, and he wanted to continue to build on that platform by creating his own lane to succeed. Thus, he created his “Where is Julian?” campaign to get the ball rolling. No one was going to hand him his stardom, so he was determined to pave his own way. Piggybacking on the momentum of his popularity, he began to put in the work. Part of me chastised him for not staying in New York to work with the NBA, but also I understood that Julian was a natural born leader. He wanted to make his own rules on his quest for fame and fortune.

Over the last few days, I’ve struggled to make sense of his untimely death, but I also know Julian wouldn’t want us to be sullen. He was a GOOD kid; quick to crack a joke and make you laugh, because he never took the hardships of life too seriously. He saw the positive of every situation. His death is still somewhat surreal to me, but my heart goes out to both families who lost their children. I’m sure Zoey Crumpton (18) was a smart young girl with her future ahead of her, and my Julian was one of the sweetest guys I knew. However, we never know what God’s plans are for our friends or us. Both students touched the lives of their friends and families, and that can never be taken away. It was an unfortunate, unforeseen accident. All that is left to do is honor both children with the good memories they bestowed on our lives. Celebrate them, because both are in heaven, looking down, with their hearts glowing for us.

Below is a link to the “WHERE IS JULIAN?” vlogs. A natural talent.

http://vimeo.com/28484200

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