Image via Jesse Taylor

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Ron Rogers (aka Jesse Taylor) wishes everyone here could see him.

The call came from his mom at 8 p.m. on June 16, 2021. In tears, my ex-wife left me a message explaining that our son had been involved in a car accident a few hours earlier. My first thought was that the sadness was unwarranted. It was probably a minor fender bender. It had to be.

I immediately got into my car and started driving to the scene. But before I arrived, his mom told me that the police were telling her that our son was already dead. Then she hung up to speak with an approaching cop. Shocked by the news, I immediately started yelling and screaming long, loud f-bombs. But I kept driving…hoping that somehow what the cops had told her was wrong.

As soon as I pulled up, a cop asked for my driver’s license and gave me the worst news that a parent can hear: my son was gone. There had been a head-on collision in the small East Bay suburb of Brentwood, on a back road lined with gravel rocks, near the canal that fed water to the cherry trees. For the next several hours, I remained in the streets in frozen shock, screaming into the sky, barely able to stand.

Throughout these moments of obliterating pain, family members arrived to join me. I vividly remember my wife, my son’s step-mom, walking out alone into an open plowed dirt field next to the road. She fell to her knees, palms up, arms spread out wide to her sides and loudly prayed to the sky with anger and tears.

In only 16 years, my son had already figured out how to be a helping hand and shoulder for those in need: an academic savant named his high school’s AP Student of the Year, and one of the fastest 16-year old distance runners in the country. He was poised for a Stanford or Oregon cross country/track scholarship. He’d helped boost my wife’s confidence with his positive encouragement and upbeat words. Now, his life has been stolen from us. No words can articulate the pain and sorrow.

But let me do my best to try to honor his memory and share those things that helped me most as I processed the traumatic grief, anger, and sadness. I need to write this for a number of reasons. The first is that I love writing about sports and music, but can’t write again until I write about my son. But the even bigger challenge is answering: “How do you write about something so traumatic as your 16-year-old son and best friend dying?” And what is even the purpose of writing it?

But I want you to know who my son was. I want to share his story so others can know and feel how special he really was. There is also the hope that maybe this can help others experiencing grief – or who will go through it in the future. That is the point of this article: to tell a remarkable story about how special my son’s life was and to find a way to share what I learned and enduring in my grieving. Maybe it can help someone else in need.

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Unlike me, my son had a father in his life. From the moment he was born, I committed myself to avoiding doing what my dad had done to me: leaving a young kid with only a mom’s parenting and support. I wisely learned from Ed O.G. when he told me, “Be A Father to Your Child.”

I grew up without a dad, but now I’m growing old without my son. Even after divorcing the mom of my first two kids, I kept my parental commitment strong. I really love being a dad and love my kids, so it was a no-brainer. As I continue to mourn, it is slightly mitigated by knowing that I had been the best father I could be while he was here. I don’t have to look back at his life and say, “I should have done this or could have done that better.” For that, I can thank my absent dad for the motivation.

I made sure they lived with me 50% of the time and also spent a lot of time volunteering and watching them at their schools, coaching their sports teams, going over homework and reading to them in their beds.

Let’s stop calling him “my son” and go with his name: Matías “Mayo” Rogers. Mayo is the nickname he disliked at first, but learned to turn into a positive. Why the name? Mexican-American on his mom’s side, hence the birth name Matías, he was tremendously proud of this side of his heritage and showed it in his clothing, hats and personality. But his skin color was a pale white like his dad or Chris Mullin or Larry Bird. So kids at school started calling him Mayo, saying for someone who was so proud to be Mexican, he sure had skin the color of mayonnaise. After complaining about the “Mayo” nickname at home, he used some encouragement from me and his step-mom, Stephanie, to own it and make it a good thing like NBA player O.J. Mayo did after choosing to take on his mom’s last name.

Most parents will brag about how awesome their kids are, but I promise you that he brightened up every room that he walked into. Matías was a miracle to experience. As a sophomore, he was named his high school’s Advanced Placement (AP) Student of the Year. After just one year of running track, he recorded the fastest two and three-mile running times in the country for his grade level. He was also the most caring, empathetic, and helpful family member and friend that anyone could hope for.

Mayo was one of these people who would sincerely ask you how your day went and always remember the answer. He’d offer his friends encouragement every time that they talked. He’d offer to cook for the family and wash everyone’s dishes after – even if his brother or sister attempted to do it themselves. Even our dental assistant would rave to me about how she’d never seen anyone that kind. “Your son is so young, and he went out of his way to ask how I was doing, then at his next appointment he remembered my answer and checked in about what I had told him six months before. He is such an amazing young man.” This was a reaction that I frequently received from people.

Matías was my best friend from the very beginning. Our bedtime stories turned into time travel stories as he became addicted to the nightly stories that he asked me to make up about us traveling through time to see things like dinosaurs and key moments in world history. I coached him in soccer and basketball. Every Friday, we did “Father-Son Movie Night.” It started with movies like the Back to the Future Trilogy (so many time travel questions), and included every classic 80s, 90s and early 2000s movie that you can imagine. S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders was both his favorite book and movie. Yes, he won AP Student of the Year in his last school year as a sophomore, but Matías was a gifted student from the beginning. He received straight A’s, honor roll and praise from teachers from Kindergarten through all 11 years of school.

His big athletic moments came when he found his true passion: running. As an adult, I regularly ran around my neighborhoods and on vacation to stay in shape. Sometimes as a kid he would join me. Where basketball was mentally challenging for him, he had a natural gift for endurance running. In junior high, he broke school records for pacer runs and the mile without training or practicing. But he never wanted to join the running teams in middle school because some of his basketball teammates made fun of runners. He wanted to impress his friends and be accepted, so he steered clear from the “dork” cross country team.

I finally pushed him into running during the summer between his 8th grade and freshman high school year in 2019. At that point, he had decided to stop playing soccer and basketball, and just focus all of his high school attention on studies. Then one day, I took him on a 6-mile run, our longest together yet. As he immediately sprinted ahead of me, I yelled at him to slow down. He’d run out of energy going that fast and never make the full six miles. Boy, was I wrong. He never slowed down and never tired out. He returned to our house so fast that my wife was worried that something happened, because it took me so much longer than him to walk in the front door.

After that, he kept arriving home earlier and earlier than me on our runs. At first, he was 10 minutes ahead of me. Then 15 minutes and 20 and 25. His long runs started at a 7-minute per mile pace and kept getting faster. Everyone would have a good laugh at my expense when I finally made it back home after him.

I was never able to come close to keeping up with him. Except maybe once when we ran in the Shiloh Hills of Windsor, CA and he was afraid mountain lions might be lurking in the wild, so he stopped for me to catch up. I ran the whole way back down with him as he warily probed the hills for vicious animals.

Before his freshman year, I did a little research into his times and realized that he would be one of the fastest freshman runners in California. After looking more online, I discovered a local East Bay Area running club called, “Delta Limitless,” who accepted him into their summer program. The club now holds a Lake Tahoe-based summer running camp in his honor: Camp Mayo.

As a high school freshman, he became what his Liberty Lions high school cross country team coach called “the greatest freshman in the school’s history.” With less than a year of practice and with COVID shutting down much of the personal training he needed as an elite athlete, he still recorded some of the best times in the country for his age. He was a natural. Speed and endurance were preternatural gifts. Over three miles, he’d keep a pace of under 5-minute per. He could run two miles in 9 minutes, 45 seconds (4:52 per mile).

On April 16, 2021, he turned 16. With his AP honors, 4.3 GPA and nationally-renowned athletic achievements, he was poised to receive scholarships from Stanford, Oregon and Georgetown, his top three choices, as he prepared to enter his junior season. He was calling it the “Summer of Mayo,” as he prepared to be the California state champion in cross country and track. His goal was to be the next Nico Young, who had just graduated high school in Southern California as one of the most heralded distance runners since Steve Prefontaine.

Imagine my grief and my family’s when we lost him a month shy of that junior year, and he lost a future bound to be a fairy tale-type legend.

The last thing he ever said to me was an unprompted, “I love you dad.” He said it first, beating me to it, as he got out of the car when I dropped him off at his mom’s. That was Tuesday night after we had our 1-on-1 dinner together and he told me how a running scholarship to Stanford was in his future. Nothing would stop him. He died the next day.

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It has taken me over two years – 27 months to be exact – to stomach the courage to put this down to paper, but I have finally been able to unearth the strength. The last thing I wrote was on this site, eight days before my son’s death on June 8, 2021. It was a long-form feature about the history of Black Sheep, including a very great, very long interview granted by rap legend Dres. His authenticity and candor helped make it one of the best things that I’ve ever written.

The Black Sheep story was one of the topics of conversation with my son during our dinner on June 15, 2021. It was one of the best conversations we’d ever had as a top-notch father-son duo. We talked about my writing and he promised he would read the Black Sheep article the following day. I never saw him again.

In the wake of his death, the community quickly honored his memory. Thousands filled the high school track stadium. Coaches, teammates, teachers and school board members spoke about how in two short years he quickly became one of the greatest runners in the school’s athletic history, one of the greatest students the teachers had ever taught and the most supportive, fun and caring friend his teammates had ever had.

From there, it was the most intense struggle that I’ve ever known. And just when I thought I was beginning to start to heal, there was a second death that happened in March of this year – less than two years after Mayo’s passing.

The assault occurred one night after work. I’d just had a big meeting with colleagues and stepped out into the street when a man came out of the shadows and struck me in the head with a blunt weapon. The police would later describe him as a “homeless drug addict” who had committed three other assaults in the previous ten days. Knocked unconscious, I hit my head a second time hard on the concrete. The blows to the head left me in a coma for weeks and my survival was deemed “unlikely” by the doctors who told my wife and family to prepare and plan for my demise.

But here I am, somehow still alive and writing. Since it all happened, I have been in a consistent stage of questioning, “Why am I still here, but my son is gone?” I use this especially as a response to those who tell me that God stepped in and chose for me to live because He still had plans for me. My plans couldn’t be anywhere near as important as that of a kind-hearted and talented 16-year-old.

One assumption that makes me feel a bit better about both traumatic events is that my son – wherever he is and whatever he is doing in the spirit universe – stepped in and called in a few favors to make sure his dad survived a harrowing attack. He had family members still grieving his death; he didn’t want them to experience another death so quickly — especially his younger, 16-year-old sister, Amaya, who didn’t need to lose her older brother and dad in such quick succession. She grew up a daddy’s girl. I choose to look at my son as my Guardian Angel.

I’m now back to mentally and physically functioning well enough to write this and go out running for miles by myself, largely due to the impact my son made in the short time he had on earth.

My recovery is likely due to all the running I did from the motivation that Matías had given me. It helped me keep my body and brain healthy enough to survive what should have been a fatal attack. With his inspiration, I worked hard on my physical therapy and was back out going on runs much faster in the recovery than any doctors predicted.

Prior to my injury, we began a yearly tradition to honor his legacy: the Miles for Mayo 5K. In 2022, we raised $36,000 for youth athletes and students in his honor. I finished first in my age group with a 21:32 time and a 6:56 pace. Our second annual 5K took place on June 25, 2023 as I was recovering from my injury. I couldn’t run it then, but I did manage to run the course on a break from writing this in late September 2023. My pace this time was 7:28. Not as good as my pre-injury 5K times, but considering I was left for dead six months ago, and paralyzed and in a coma for several weeks, I will take it. As Chuck D said, “now that’s progress.”

Find a good therapist and go to therapy consistently. Two years before my trauma, my good childhood friend lost his young son from gun violence. When I lost my son, I called him straightaway for advice on how he managed through his trauma. His first advice was to go see a professional. It helped him and it has also helped me.

Read books on grief: Bearing the Unbearable by Joanne Cacciatore and When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner are two I have read. Knowing others have been through similar trauma helps reduce the victim angst many parents of deceased children will feel.

Build adrenaline and endorphins through exercise and punch the shit out of a heavy bag. Running became my main form of therapy, because it was such a big part of our life together. I imagine him running with me and giving me encouragement to keep going. In my mind, he is checking in on me, being one of the birds or butterflies flying near me as I run. The first six months of 2021, I averaged 35 miles running a month. After his death, for the final six months of the year, I increased to 57 miles running per month and kept that going in 2022, which was a big part of my recovery and survival.

At my therapist’s suggestion, I also hung a heavy bag in my garage and threw punches to exorcise the sadness and anger from within me. Being in this good of shape and the inspiration from my son’s spirit was largely the reason I survived my near death. My wife and I hiked to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome in July 2021, because that was something he had on his list to do with me. I’ve also gone back on past runs or hikes we had done together in Lake Tahoe, Windsor, North Bay’s Goat Rock Beach, Drakes Bay, Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz and Ocean View on the coast of Monterey. Seeing the waves crash into the coast is a heartfelt form of therapy.

Cry, scream and yell while alone in your car and listening to an Angry Mix music playlist featuring DMX and Geto Boys. I’ve never been a crier or yeller, but my therapist recommended I do it to help release my grief, and she was correct. These processes of release help ease the grief. After exercising, crying or yelling, a weight is released from your shoulders. It helps to remove the pit I wake up with in my stomach every day.

Have you ever had a job you hate or hated a project you need to complete on a certain work day that causes you to wake up with a sick feeling of dread in your stomach? That is my morning every day since losing my son, and these processes help alleviate it.

Know your triggers and find ways to stay away from them. “All of My Love” by Led Zeppelin is a song about Robert Plant losing his young son and it is too painful for me to listen to. So I avoid it, even though it’s close to my experience. Going to my son’s gravesite was something I avoided for a period of time because the pain was too deep – knowing his body was laid there just below the ground. His headstone features pictures of him that tear me apart.

I stay away from mental triggers that keep me awake into the night, I have used podcasts and meditation sounds to fall asleep. “Questlove Supreme” is the most played podcast on my list, featuring some of my favorite musicians. It’s followed by podcasts about TV shows I’m watching, music I listen to and sports teams that I follow. Sports and Sci-Fi on TV are also good distractions to hide from the reality of life.

The 2021 NBA Draft and Warriors Summer League featuring Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody was a nice distraction for me less than two months after Mayo’s death. I rewatched Game of Thrones, and even though I’m not a big Star Wars guy, I watched some of the new shows like The Mandalorian, Andor and Ahsoka because they are such an escape from the real world – as is Winning Time on HBO about the Showtime Lakers.

Keep a journal and write to your lost one. Another therapist suggestion I still use. I write messages to my son regularly, and take the journal with me when I travel. I wrote him a message from the top of a rock he used to love racing up in Yosemite’s Curry Village.

Take a chance and try to believe in improbable spiritual things that may make you feel good, like hummingbirds, butterflies or dragonflies that just might be your lost one coming to visit you and check in.

Find a way to honor your lost one and keep his/her memory and spirit alive. Because of his passion and talent for running, and the amount of running friends he had, our family organized an annual 5K run in his honor with all the proceeds donated to schools and youth sports in his name. As a family, we also planted two apple trees in our backyard in his honor. Apples were Mayo’s go-to as a runner. And he always had to pick them out himself at the grocery to make sure he got them exactly how he liked them. His favorite apple was honeycrisp, and each morning, he got up early and I’d see him cutting up a honeycrisp on a paper towel in the kitchen to eat before running.

As much as you may not want to be here anymore, stay alive. Suicide will create more pain for your living loved ones who also lost the person you lost. I have a wife, kids and a mom who lost her first grandchild. The worst thing I could do would be to take another family member away from them. There were times I felt like I didn’t want to be on this earth any longer, but I never considered taking my own life.

Listen to music that fills your soul and releases your anger, and incorporate the lyrical messages into your life. Music is a big part of my day, especially during runs, and it truly can be therapeutic. Some of the key songs that helped me are in the section below.

No one expresses the sadness and pain they feel through their voices quite like Future and Young Thug. They are all over my grieving playlists. Not all of their words focus on grief, but when they do, it’s like they are speaking to me.

“Blood, Sweat and Tears” by Future is the song I feel speaks to my son the most and serves as the centerpiece and closing of his Celebration of Life video. It helps me with my top goal of this article: to tell you how special he was. In 16 years, he gave everything he had, his blood, sweat and tears, to be the best human being he possibly could be. On his 15th birthday, he ran 15 miles in honor of his grandma, who had died two months earlier. A 6:45 pace for a half-marathon-plus 15 miles. What other 15-year-old does that?!

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I wish everyone, I wish everyone
I wish everyone here could see him
He gave his blood, sweat, tears

You couldn’t have known what he did for this
You couldn’t have known, you couldn’t have known
You couldn’t have known what he did for this

Ay, this kid right here, is a miracle
His life now, this is spiritual
My son was kinda like my one true messiah, a life better than what I ever could expect
Ain’t no one never knew this struggle, or understand his passion for life was his hunger

I wish all y’all could believe me
I fear y’all never believe it
I’m not even thinkin’ he left me behind
I saw what he went through to get there
I know what he came through to be there
Everybody wanted a piece of him
Everybody wanted his future fame
I wish you could feel all my family’s pain
I wish everyone in there could see him
I wish everyone in here could see him
He gave his blood, sweat, tears
You couldn’t have known what he did for this
He gave his blood, sweat, tears

All I ever want now is for you to believe in him
He came, he struggled, he made it, he conquered
One hunnid, he kept his word, he kept his word, I promise
He had so much dedication and hard work
He redefined gravity, now he goes way beyond Earth

Two of the albums that spoke to me the most during my grieving was Thundercat’s It Is what It Is, with the Zen vibes and messages that things will be what they are despite their labels, with emotions focused on grief, mortality, loss and love. At just 15, Thundercat was one of Matías’ favorite artists and “Them Changes” was his jam. Pretty advanced listening habits for his age. My other grieving album was Kenny Beats’ Louie, a tribute to Kenny’s father after he was diagnosed with cancer. It was an emotional album about life and death, and that felt like a tribute to Matías.

Some therapeutic standout songs for me on those albums include:

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Let me know if you can hear me
It feels so cold and so alone
Just need some sort of sun
Is it time to go?
Somewhere lost in space

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How I feel
Is this real?

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Sometimes existential dread
Comes ringing through loud and clear
I’ll adjust and simply let go
I guess it is what it is
I’m not sure of what’s coming next
But I’ll be alright as long as I keep breathing
I know I’ll be alright

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Life was just more fun when you came around
When you were around, you knew what to say
You brightened everyone’s day
I feel that it’s crazy
When you were around
When you were around

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When the gold becomes dough
And the magic starts to fade
When it all comes to an end
When there’s nothing left to say
It is what it is
My best just wasn’t enough
It couldn’t be helped, the end
The things I would do for you
After all is said and done
And I’m all alone
When I sit back and reflect
From a broken heart
Sometimes there’s regret
It is what it is
It couldn’t be helped, the end
So many things I wanna say
This is the end

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So in love with you … you
I really love you, yes, I do

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Ruled by human logic, we sometimes confine ourselves to one plane of the universe
We live forever
Eternal life is the intersection of the line of time in the plane of now
We live forever

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Slowed my heart
Itchy-gitchy airplane
I say goodbye just to miss you
(Vince Staples, as my son) I’m gonna live forever so you can’t ever tell me goodbye
I could be here forever, I’m immortal, I’m a statue
I’m a public figure, a trophy that’s nice and shiny
I’m here forever like air, nobody say goodbye to the air

Other key songs on my running playlist that motivate and inspire me, and sometimes find me changing the lyrics to mirror my experience.

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Drop to my knees
Beggin’ to the Lord, please
Grindin’ my teeth
Surrounded by police
I’m searchin’ for peace
Cryin’ and yellin’ three or four times
Fall to my knees
Now I’m running with your spirit next to me
You helpin’ me to breathe, yeah
You helpin’ me to breathe, baby

Helpin’ me breathe
Your death weaken my knees
If you were still in these, I’d make it harder for you to leave
Popped a pill just to sleep, I been up for a week
I bought you the best running gear ’cause I’m proud of you, just keep it a G (proud of you), yeah
Ran with you ‘cross the moon, you on the left (‘cross the moon)
When your legs fly , and you jet by, the endorphins storm in
I’m glad you were photogenic Monday through Sunday (I can see it)
I’m keepin’ my eyes on you, these celebration of life videos iconic
Now I’m running with your spirit next to me
You helpin’ me to breathe, yeah
You helpin’ me to breathe, baby
You helpin’ me to breathe (don’t make me suffer if it’s nothin’)
Without my heart, there’s a chance I could die
Your spirit had my back the night I was meant to die
I try to reach you when I run and touch the sky
But you helpin’ me to breathe (you helpin’ me to breathe)

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I was havin’ life issues
But life got much better since I had you
I know it’s true father-son love with you
Told myself I’m leavin’ their mom but I don’t wanna leave you
Runnin’ with you on the Monterey Bay coast speedin’
Friday, vacation, we just started the weekend
“XO” text and you responded
We gon’ go crazy with this parent-kid friendship
We do hot yoga, to stretch it out after runnin’, 92 degrees
Can you stretch it out? Stretch it out for me
I got a life to lead, but it’s hard to do without you
My 16 years with you had me feelin’
Your-your incredible
Son go win that race I know you ’bout that action
Running legs move like a deer, moonwalkin’, Michael Jackson
Put these Nike shoes on, f*ck the cost, I just wanna show you off

Your-your incredible

But your passion for running, I hear it when you’re talkin’
We ain’t clashin’, you quiet when I’m talkin’
Put them Nikes on you, have ’em Billie Jean moonwalkin’
Put them Nikes on you, have ’em, ooh, moonwalkin’
You get into everything exclusively, I’m honest
Good thing I trained you and you got that remedy
The best thing about you, only go that far for me
You a star to me
Your-your incredible

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Round and round, I got dizzy
Shit hit me, now I’m in hell
All by myself, all I think about is silence
I think about you often, it’s tricky,
I hate to describe it
I would give all my heart, all body parts, as sacrifices
To bring you back
A father with loss is falling hard
I’m crawling on the floor for your symmetry in alignment
Feels like I was hit with a paddle by Donatello
Am I disposable
I just wish again I could call you mine
And wrap my arms around your waist until you say I’m hurting your spine
I spoke to God from outer space
Asking why He closed the door and locked the gate
All he had was time, that shit hurt bad
Counting the days since your name came and lit up my phone
through the screen, cracked spirit now holds my broken bones

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The best son for a dad you were all that I need
Each and every day I pray to see you again, please
I want to be close to you, yes I’m so hungry
You’re like water for my soul when it gets thirsty
Without you there’s no me
You’re the air that I breathe
Sometimes the world is dark and I just can’t see
With these, demons surround all around to bring me down to negativity
But I believe, yes I believe, I said I believe
I’ll stand and run on my own two feet
Won’t be brought down on one knee
Fight with all of my might and get these demons to flee
My heart’s rays fire blaze burn bright and I believe
Out of darkness comes light, twilight unto the heights
My soul is burnin’ up all through ‘till twilight
Said, thank you to my son, now I finally got it right
And I’ll fight with all of my heart, and all a’ my soul, and all a’ my might

What’s this feeling?
My love will rip a hole in the ceiling
Givin’ myself to you from the essence of my being
And I write with all my heart to all these songs of love and healing
I want Mayo back now so it’s time we start revealing

I’m drowning in the waters and I can’t stay afloat
Ask where was my mercy I should have been thrown a rope
Lookin’ for help from God, you’ll say He couldn’t be found
Yellin’ up to the sky, lookin’ beneath the ground
Like a king without a crown
I kept falling down
I really wanted him to live, I can’t get rid of my frown
I still make room for his love
I hope his fire gon’ still blaze

I said I lift up your life where my heart come from
While runnin’ I seen it circlin’ around from the mountain
Thunder, I feel it in my chest
Keep my mind at ease, and my soul at rest and not vexed
And I look to the sky where will my help come from
While runnin’ I seen it circlin’ around from the mountain
Thunder, I feel it in my chest

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I’m down to a new level, I’m down to a new level
I’m down to a new level, I’m down to a new level
Had to watch a shovel, put my young son in the dirt
We were so close, for years we put in work

My son died and my friend’s son, too
Never expecting anything like that, hit with a hammer and fell to the ground
Everyday I imagine running with him, I cannot slow down!
No way I can stop now, hitting all the trails in my town

Mayo looking down, I know he see me runnin’ tough
His grandma was so proud
Up in Heaven, I know my son can see me
I’ma make my kid proud
If you didn’t know well you know now
I gotta get in my zone now
I gotta get in my zone now

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Livin’ life in the rain (standin’ in the rain)
Washin’ all my grief
And my life ain’t the same
It spins one time, it’ll spin again
Go make acquaintance with your angel
While the devil in my head

Angel communication comin’ in
Only need him, no need to communicate with all of them
I do wish he had scientist or engineer friends
Some of these distance running kids got more rednecks than it’s ever been
No shade to Dylan, Dom, Morel, Kyle, James, Calvin, Marcelo or Keene
And then, who could have known when his life would end?
Hoped he’d be eighty and still be running with his second wind
Outrunning those in India, Zambia, camera cameo, boy Mayo could really move those hips
A stamina stampede of happily happenings, dabblin’ into obliv-
-Ion, neon, now he’s beyond the ambiance
Be honest, God promised that he will live
He shoulda shoulda lived forever
Yeah, my heart’s now shaped like a teardrop
I run in these streets like a headlock
Run just like a skydiver
Spirit, why’d you have to be slaughtered
No suicide in a Range Rover
Heart breakin’ tryin’ to avoid crowds now
Watched me watch the world take my pain and balance it
It’s better to be an outcast in a world of envious (oh, yeah)
He shoulda shoulda lived forever
I am a menace that’s movin’ on vengeance
I promise my heart that my anger is endless
It ain’t enough that I pumped up my heart running on this block
I’ll run through this whole f*ckin’ village
His spirit next to me with a smile, not a grimace

I do not wish for no regular life
I did not marry a regular wife
You think that I’m quittin’? You smokin’ a pipe
He shoulda shoulda lived forever
They don’t make ’em like this
He shoulda shoulda lived forever

Livin’ life in the rain (standin’ in the rain)
Washin’ all my grief
And my life ain’t the same

It spins one time, it’ll spin again
Him. He shoulda shoulda lived forever
Go make acquaintance with your angel
While the devil in my head

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This shit here feels like my whole entire world collapsed
Wish I could bring my son back, put him by my side when I run that
Outside I run that, yes I run that
So keep acting like you don’t know if I’m doing okay
Before I show y’all motherf*ckers my deep depression today
Ante up, yo hit the trail by that ditch
Running is my therapy as I bail by that ditch
People just don’t get me, on grief work leave, they faked like they missed me
I’m Ron I want my goddamn son with me

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I’m so sad, all I can say is “Woo, woo, woo”
I can’t talk, my tears just say, “Woo, woo, woo”
His name is M never be another one, ooh, ooh
F*ck that shit, I enter therapy, woo, woo
Life cut in half like no other
I can never be a facade
Up to the sky with the spirits, universe
Always been by my side, my best friend since birth

[embedded content]

As I lay me down to sleep
I hear him speak to me
Hello Dad, how ya doin’?
I think the storm ran out of rain, the clouds are movin’
I hope you’re happy ’cause I need to see it
So tell the voice inside ya head to believe it
I talked to God about you, he said he sent you an angel
It was me, look at all that he gave you
You know I never left you
‘Cause every road that leads to heaven’s right inside you
So I can say
Hello, my only one, just like the mornin’ sun
You’ll keep on risin’ ’til the sky knows your name
Hello, my only one, remember who you are
Remember how I’d say
Hey, hey, one day, you’ll be the man you always knew you could be
And if you knew how proud I was
You’d never shed a tear, have a fear, no, you wouldn’t do that
And though I didn’t pick the day to turn the page
I know it’s not the end every time I see his face in my mind or pictures, and I hear you say
Hello my only one, remember who you are
You got the world ’cause you got love in your hands
And you’re still my chosen one
I won’t go, I won’t go
No goodbyes, no goodbyes
Just hello, just hello
And when you cry, I will cry
And when you smile, I will smile
And next time when I look in your eyes
We’ll have wings and we’ll fly

[embedded content]

Keep my spirit alive
Keep my spirit alive, alive
More than anything
You can take it all, but the Lord on my side
Spirit won’t die
Oh, my life
Is in His hands, so I don’t stress, I pray and strategize
Yeah, don’t hate me ’cause my heart is full of love

[embedded content]

For your life
Now, in the time when your kid wasn’t supposed to be gone
That’s the place left for dead, and cities end up war-torn
Love was consummated and the angels registrated
Two were born first, but only one of ’em made it
Inside a cloud of sorrow, the silver lining and joy
It’s a bouncing baby boy, a Hispanic name he would employ
Now, give him hope, give him care, raise him while his grandma there
Have you ever
Lost somebody
Way before you
Got to dream
No more crying
He’s in sunshine
Never thought that I would ever be writing this song
Hold loved ones tight, never know when those people are gone
So, so beautiful, opined indisputable
Have you ever
Lost somebody
Way before you
Got to dream
No more crying
He’s in sunshine
He’s alright now
See his wings

[embedded content]

No words, just beautiful, uplifting music

[embedded content]

[embedded content]

See note above

[embedded content]

I’m lookin’ for him (Running’ Top Times Mayo Made-It)
I’m lookin’ for him

I wanna tell the world about you just so know everything you did with me
And if you see him before I do, tell him I wish he was with me
Turn on the lights
I’m lookin’ for him, too
I saw him keep all his promises and he never turned on you
He won races and ain’t got to cheat and won on talent no trick no move
He was there anytime we need, he come through
Turn on the lights
I’m lookin’ for him
Send him my way
Tell him I’ve been lookin’ for him running in the broad day
Looking for his spirit in every hallway
I’m ready for when he gets here is he wants to run and play
Turn on the lights
I’m lookin’ for him, too
I heard he got a handsome face and stand up like a stallion
A runner like a precious jewel, he always won medallions
I wanna be the one to find him if I go to prowlin’
And if I get his number, you know I can’t wait to dial it
And if we get together, running again, you know we gon’ be wildin’
And when we get together we make magic and it’s ours
Whenever you up here, ain’t nothin’ nobody can do about it
He’s a Brentwood boy
But he a good boy
Sometimes misled
But always ready for the world
I want your energy
To take control of me
I tried to go to sleep
And seen him in my dreams
Just in case you recognize his face, send him to me
And tell him I’ve been lookin’ for him with a flashlight
Running with him on my shoulder means I got to dash, right?
And tell him I’m his dad and I promise to always stay true
Make sure when you tell him, tell him we runnin’ past the moon

[embedded content]

As I get a little older, I realize life is perspective
And my perspective may differ from yours
I wanna say thank you to everyone that’s been down with me
All my family, all my beautiful family
Anyone who’s ever gave me a read, all my people
I come from a generation of friends, where death is too normal
Casey lost his son at 20, mine at 16, me and Bobby on death’s border
Desensitized, I vandalized pain
Covered up and camouflaged
Get used to hearin’ screams and tears of rain
I said I’d do this for my son, Mayo
Hold an annual 5K in his honor so people know what he went through
The death got me f*cked up, y’all can miss me
I wanna represent for him
16 years and life was up and movin’
I’m on the street he’s with me wiping my tears full of confusion
A line of cops and lights between us, another car done executed
History repeats again
Dehumanized, insensitive
Scrutinize the way we live for you and I
Celebrate his life when his annual run come back around
The purpose is in his lessons we learnin’ now
Reflectin’ on my life and what I done
Paid dues, made rules, change outta love
Should I feel resentful he didn’t see his full potential?
Should I feel regret about the good that he was into?
Everything is everything, this ain’t coincidental
He woke up that mornin’ with more heart to give you
As he bleed through the speakers, feel his presence
To his parents, to his siblings, he’s in Heaven
To his friends, to his teammates, he’s in Heaven
To my son, when I run with you, this is Heaven
[Mayo] I completed my mission, wasn’t ready to leave
But fulfilled my days, my Creator was pleased
I can’t stress how I love y’all
I don’t need to be in flesh just to hug y’all
The memories recollect just because y’all
Celebrate me with respect
The unity we protect is above all
And dad, I’ll be watchin’ over you
Make sure your readers watch all my interviews
Make sure you live all the dreams we produce
Keep that genius in your brain on the move
And to my neighborhood, let the good prevail
Raise money from me for sports and school, I’m not in hell
Look for salvation when troubles get real
‘Cause you can’t help the world until you help yourself
And I can’t blame no one the day that I was killed
It was meant to be that way, that’s the only way to feel
And though my physical won’t reap the benefits
The energy that carry on emits still
I want you

[embedded content]

You gotta just take a moment to breathe
Just take a breath for a second

Time to dump (Fiyah!), dump (Fiyah!)
Dump (Fiyah!), dump (Fiyah!)
Dump (Fiyah!)
You don’t know

And motherf*cker, I’m comin’
Hundreds of miles I’m runnin’
I’m still running down trails with sobs
Coached my son in hoop, spent time throwing him lobs

And it just get worser every time I sign my signature in cursive
Just add another million of pain to these verses
One million, two million, three million, four
Maybe these words really worthless, I’m just pissing myself off on purpose
My son is gone, and my life no longer straight
I wasn’t ready for the drama that came my way

No lyrics changed. Just songs to listen to when feeling sad and angry, and need to vent about hating the world.

1. Metallica – “One”
2. Metallica– “Enter Sandman”
3. Geto Boys – “Assassins”
4. Geto Boys – “F*ck ‘Em”
5. Rage Against the Machine – “Killing In the Name”
6. Rage Against the Machine – “Calm Like A Bomb”
7. Rage Against the Machine – “Wake Up”
8. Rage Against the Machine – “Bullted In the Head”
9. System of a Down – “Chop Suey!”
10. Vince Staples – “Hands Up”
11. DMX – “Some X Shit”
12. DMX – “Where the Hood At”
13. DMX – “X Gon’ Give It to Ya”
14. Rage Against the Machine – “Freedom”
15. System of a Down – “Sad Statue”
16. System of a Down – “Question!”
17. System of a Down – “Stealing Society”
18. Paris – “Bush Killa”
19. System of a Down – “ATWA”
20. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”
21. De La Soul – “Rock Co.Kane Flow” (feat. MF DOOM)
22. A$AP Ferg – “New Level” (feat. Future)
23. Pearl Jam – “Animal”
24. Pearl Jam – “Go”
25. Pearl Jam – “Blood”

I can’t lie, sometimes the angry playlist can be a bit much and is too overwhelming, and I need to switch it up with something that makes your soul feel happier. That would be my “Upbeat Feel Good” playlist. It’s a good BBQ or kitchen cooking mix, two of the things where Matías was usually by my side acting as my sous-chef.

1. Beyonce – “VIRGO’S GROOVE”
2. Earth, Wind & Fire – “Let’s Groove”
3. The Weeknd – “Blinding Lights”
4. The Weeknd – “Take My Breath”
5. Outkast – “Rosa Parks”
6. Sublime – “D.J.’s”
7. Al Green – “Love and Happiness”
8. Weezer – “Holiday”
9. Weezer – “Island In the Sun”
10. Beyonce – “CUFF IT”
11. Beyonce – “Drunk In Love” (feat. JAY Z)
12. Prince – “When You Were Mine”
13. Prince – “I Wanna Be Your Lover”
14. Prince – “Little Red Corvette”
15. The Time – “The Bird”
16. The Time – “Jungle Love”
17. The Jacksons – “Blame It On the Boogie”
18. The Jacksons – “Shake Your Body”
19. The Jacksons – “Enjoy Yourself”
20. The Jackson 5 – “I Want You Back”
21. The Jackson 5 – “Who’s Loving You”
22. MC Breed – “Gotta Get Mine” (feat. 2Pac)
23. 2Pac – “I Get Around”
24. 2Pac – “Heaven Ain’t Hard 2 Find”
25. 2Pac – “Str8 Ballin’”
26. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”
27. Ol’ Dirty Bastard – “Got Your Money” (feat. Kelis)
28. David Bowie – “Let’s Dance”
29. Cam’ron – “Oh Boy” (feat. Juelz Santana)
30. Mista Grimm – “Indo Smoke”
31. Tha Dogg Pound Gangstas – “Big Pimpin’”
32. Mac Dre – “Feelin’ Myself”
33. MC Eiht – “Streiht Up Menace”
34. Black Sheep – “The Choice Is Yours”
35. Tony! Toni! Toné! – “Feels Good”
36. Tony! Toni! Toné! – “Let’s Get Down” (feat. DJ Quik)
37. Tony! Toni! Toné! – “Thinking of You”
38. DJ Quik – “Dollaz + Sense”
39. DJ Quik – “Hand In Hand” (feat. 2nd II None)
40. 2nd II None – “If You Want It”
41. 2nd II None – “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong”
42. DJ Quik & Problem – “A New Nite / Rosecrans Grove” (feat. Shy Carter)
43. DJ Quik – “Rhythm-Al-Ism”
44. DJ Quik & Suga Free – “Do I Love Her?”
45. Janet Jackson – “Love Will Never Do”
46. Gang Starr – “DWYCK” (feat. Nice & Smooth)
47. Brick – “Ain’t Gonna Hurt Nobody”
48. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – “The Creator”
49. Beastie Boys – “Root Down”
50. Puff Daddy & Friends – “It’s All About the Benjamins” / “Been Around the World”
51. A Tribe Called Quest – “Award Tour”
52. A Tribe Called Quest – “Buggin’ Out”
53. T.I. – “Live Your Life” (feat. Rihanna)
54. Michael Jackson – “Wanna Be Startin’ Something”
55. Michael Jackson – “P.Y.T.”
56. DJ Quik – “Down, Down, Down” (feat. Suga Free, AMG & Mausberg)
57. The Cure – “Just Like Heaven”
58. Madvillain – “Accordion”
59. MF DOOM – “Rhymes Like Dimes” (feat. DJ Cucumber Slice)
60. MF DOOM – “Doomsday” (feat. Pebbles The Invisible Girl)
61. Home Team – “Pick It Up”
62. The Five Stairsteps – “O-o-h Child”
63. De La Soul – “Buddy” (feat. The Jungle Brothers, Monie Love, Queen Latifah & Q-Tip)
64. Naughty By Nature – “Uptown Anthem”
65. Naughty By Nature – “O.P.P.”
66. Naughty By Nature – “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”
67. Naughty By Nature – “Thankx for Sleepwalking”
68. Naughty By Nature – “Hip Hop Hooray”
69. Naughty By Nature – “Feels Good (Don’t Worry About A Thing)” (feat. 3LW)
70. Coldplay – “Viva La Vida”
71. Modest Mouse – “Float On”
72. Kool & The Gang – “Get Down On It”
73. Kool & The Gang – “Hollywood Swinging”
74. Kool & The Gang – “Jungle Boogie”
75. Bob Marley & The Wailers – “One Love / People Get Ready”
76. Toots & The Maytals – “Take Me Home, Country Roads”
77. The Beatles – “Eight Days A Week”
78. Travis Scott – “Pick Up the Phone” (feat. Young Thug & Quavo)
79. Snoop Dogg – “Beautiful” (feat. Pharrell Williams)
80. Tribal Seeds – “In Your Eyes”
81. Thundercat – “Black Qualls” (feat. Steve Lacy, Steve Arrington & Childish Gambino)
82. Thundercat – “Miguel’s Happy Dance”
83. Thundercat – “Bus In These Streets”
84. Stevie Wonder – “Sir Duke”
85. Stevie Wonder – “Knocks Me Off My Feet”
86. Stevie Wonder – “Please Don’t Go”
87. The Temptations – “I Want A Love I Can See”
88. Van Morrison – “Jackie Wilson Said”
89. Van Morrison – “Caravan”

Sometimes I switch my running playlists to include some rock or rock/rap hybrid songs. This is not everything I listen to, just a few select songs that stand out and speak to my grief process.

[embedded content]

Started at 6 down to 5 we lost one
Five, five, five cause we lost one
Said started at 6 down to 5 we lost one
Five, five, five cause we lost one
Torture got a hold of me, yeah
In a car abducted on the street
I’d rather be
I’d rather be in
I’d rather be in another place
God, why would you want to hurt me? Oh
So frightened of the pain

[embedded content]

Spin me round
Roll me over
F*cking nightmare
Stab it down
One way needle
Pulled so slowly
Drains and spills
Soaks the pages.
Fills their sponges.
He’s my blood.
He’s my blood.

[embedded content]

I am turned into loneliness, my life now disregard
Handful of complaints but I can’t help the fact
That everyone can see these scars
But it’s like no matter what I do, I can’t convince you
To just believe the deepness that this is real
I can’t feel the way I did before
Don’t turn your back on me
I won’t be ignored
Time won’t heal this damage anymore
Don’t turn your back on me
I won’t be ignored
I can’t feel the way I did before
Don’t turn your back on me
I won’t be ignored

[embedded content]

Do you have the time to listen to me whine
About my son and everything all at once?
I am one of those
grieving parents, true
Neurotic to the bone
No doubt about it
Now life just gives me the creeps
And now my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I’m cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
Or have I just turned to stone?
Grasping to control
So I better hold on

[embedded content]

Na-na-na-na, na-na-na
Hey you, see me, mind’s gone crazy
All the world I’ve known before me, has passed me by
I’ve got nothing, to gain, to lose
All the world I’ve known before me, has passed me by
You don’t know about how I feel
I don’t feel shit there anymore

Hey you, aren’t me, life no longer pretty
All the world I’ve known before me, has passed me by
Primal therapy, my voice, I’ve got no choice
All the world I’ve known before me, has passed me by
You don’t know about how I feel
I don’t feel shit there anymore
I don’t see (anymore)
I don’t hear (anymore)
I don’t speak (anymore)
I don’t feel
I don’t sleep (anymore)
I don’t eat (anymore)
I don’t live (anymore)
I don’t feel

[embedded content]

I couldn’t resist him
Made from my bones
He was my marrow
The breath of life in my home
I can’t avoid it
He’s in the air (in the air)
In between molecules
Of oxygen and carbon dioxide
Only in dreams
I see him in ripped jeans
Reach out our hands
Hug it out like men
But when I wake
It’s all been erased
And so it seems
Only in dreams
I go out for a run
He’s there with me floating in the air
We know there’s no way
I can touch his pace times he could crush other runner’s times into a thousand pieces
Only in dreams
I see him in ripped jeans
Reach out our hands
Hug it out like men
But when I wake
It’s all been erased
And so it seems
Only in dreams
Only in dreams
Only in dreams

[embedded content]

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit
Father, into your hands
Why have you forsaken me?
In your eyes forsaken me
In your thoughts forsaken me
In your heart forsaken me, oh
Can’t even think about self-righteous suicide
I cry when angels don’t deserve to die
Can’t even think about self-righteous suicide
I cry when angels don’t deserve to die

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