From the time her son was wee tall, Lucy McBath taught him that his life was a gift, that he meant something.
Now, sitting at her kitchen table in Marietta, shadowed by death, McBath believes her son not only knew who he was, but whose.
“I knew he knew God, and that his faith was now his own,” McBath said.
Just months before he was shot to death in the parking lot of a Jacksonville convenience store after a dispute over loud music, Jordan Davis stood in that kitchen and talked to his mother about death.
“You know when my time comes, God has told me I will be OK,” she recalls him saying. “Y’all will be the ones suffering.”
Reluctantly, she answered his questions as to how she would handle it if he were to die. Of course, she’d be devastated, she told him, but “God would command me to keep moving forward.”
Since his killing, McBath, 53, has created a scholarship foundation in his name and spoken out out against violence and stand your ground laws. For that, the Atlanta Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., will award her its Fortitude Award next month.
Jordan was Lucy’s and Ron Davis’ second born, their miracle baby.
After losing their son Lucien in 1993, they’d given up ever having children. Lucy had a condition that made it nearly impossible for her to conceive and carry a child to full term.
But just as she was getting ready to run the Peachtree Road Race in 1994, Lucy discovered she was pregnant.
“We were so excited,” she said.
The next nine months were mostly spent sitting.
“I cross-stitched. I read, talked on the phone,” she said. “I came up and down stairs twice during the day. Once in the morning and then in the evening when Ron came home from work.”
On Feb. 16, 1995, Jordan Russell Davis was born at Emory Hospital.
“He was this perfect little screaming boy,” she said.
From day one, Lucy set out to bring him up in the nurture and admonition of her God.
She and his father always told him, McBath said, “that what you do and how you live matters, and that if he lived his life this way he’d be blessed.”
And Jordan seemed blessed. It showed in the number of kids who gathered at the McBath home and the easy way he made friends.
Even after she and Ron divorced, it wasn’t unusual for Jordan to ask his mom to cover the cost of meals or outings to museums and festivals for his friends because their parents couldn’t afford it.
“He’d say ‘God’s got it,’” McBath recalled, laughing. “We’d take the kids right along with us.”
But Jordan was never a pushover, his mother said. He was very vocal, which is why she wasn’t surprised he stood up to Michael Dunn, the man who complained about the music issuing from the SUV occupied by Jordan and his friends.
“He liked to challenge your ideas or opinions,” McBath said.
No one was exempt from his probing questions about life. Not even his mother.
He had plenty of questions in 2011 when McBath made the hard decision to send him to live with his father in Jacksonville.
A recurrence of breast cancer had left her in no condition to care for her son.
“He was a teenager by then, and I had taught him all that I could,” she said. “He needed his father. I needed to concentrate on getting well.”
It wasn’t like he was moving to unfamiliar territory. He’d spent most of his summers, weekends and holidays with his dad. He looked forward to every visit.
Even so, Jordan, a sophomore at Marietta High School, was angry at his mom. He refused to talk to her for an entire month.
Over time, though, Jordan accepted his parents’ decision.“Slowly he started to come around,” McBath said. “He started making friends. He and his dad were fishing and crabbing.”
Things really began to turn around when Jordan landed a part-time job at McDonald’s and a girl named Aliyah Harris caught his attention.
“He started calling me. ‘Mom you know I don’t know much about women, but boy she’s different’,” he told her during one of their hours-long telephone conversations. “She’s so much like you. Beautiful. Strong. Straight A student.”
He and Lucy last spoke on Thanksgiving day, 2012. “He was soul happy,” his mother said.
Several days later Jordan was out with three of his buddies when he crossed paths with Dunn outside a convenience store.
At his trial, Dunn testified the music the teens were playing was so loud he asked them to please turn it down.
“They turned it off. I said thank you,” he said.
But Dunn said the young men soon began using expletives and then turned the volume back up. That’s when he fired into the SUV, killing Jordan. Dunn testified that he believed the teen had a shotgun.
The jury convicted him of attempted murder for firing into the SUV but deadlocked on the murder charge arising from Jordan’s death. A new trial on that charge is scheduled for May.
McBath is disappointed in her son’s response to Dunn. But that moment, she said, shouldn’t define him.
That’s why, from the beginning, she and Ron Davis “were determined that no one would tell our story, no one but us. … He was a good boy.”
That was never more clear, McBath said, than in the weeks following his death.
“You know what you sow into your children,” she said. “What has been more astounding is to learn through other people the depth of his faith.”
Despite his violent death, McBath said that Jordan “kind of went out on a high note,” and that her prayer to be used for God’s purpose has been answered.
“When you pray for that, you don’t get to choose what that will look like,” she said. “When people ask, ‘Aren’t you still devastated?’ I say ‘No, my boy is good, and I know his face will be the first I see when I get to heaven.”