Andy Davis sold cars, fixed copiers and melted tar for a roofing crew to pay the bills. Then one morning, when he was 34, he woke up his wife with a revelation.
“I want to be an artist,” he told her. “I really feel like this is what I need to do.”
In the two decades since, Davis has created life-sized statues of Ray Charles for Charles’ hometown of Albany and of “give me liberty or give me death” orator Patrick Henry for downtown McDonough, the suburban town Davis calls home. And on June 29, he was chosen to create the statue of Martin Luther King Jr. that will stand on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol, a job for which he was picked by Gov. Nathan Deal.
On Sunday, just two weeks after being tapped for the MLK assignment, Davis was in grave condition at Grady Memorial Hospital. Police say he was on his motorcycle early Saturday morning when he was rear-ended at a red light by an intoxicated driver.
Doctors at Grady "confirmed that any trace of [Davis] is no longer there, but his strong, heroic heart is still beating," his family posted in a statement on Facebook Sunday morning. "He's always been our Captain; A fighter, a lover, a friend, and he Never, Never, Never gives up. We are returning today to find out if in fact there is any brain activity, and we will post another update soon.
“One thing that we know, is that he would want everyone to think on his life works, his wild, loving Heart, and his Heroism that was so apparent in his barefooted steps.”
As of Sunday afternoon, no additional updates had been posted.
Davis was hit from behind by a Toyota pickup truck at a traffic light at Jodeco Road in Henry County, near the on-ramp to I-75, around 12:35 a.m. Saturday, a Georgia State Patrol spokeswoman told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The driver of the pickup truck, Corey Ashton Sease, 20, has been charged with driving under the influence, following too closely and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, authorities said.
"Why don't more people follow their dreams?" Davis asked in a 2014 interview with the AJC. "We'd have more skateboarders, more mountain climbers, more writers. There'd be more love-makers.
“Can you imagine if Monet allowed the world to tell him what to do?” he asked. “Or Henry Ford? Bill Gates?
“Hell! What if the Wright brothers hadn’t followed their dreams?”
Originally from Ocala, Fla., Davis and his family moved to Forest Park when Davis was 5.
"Being around Andy in moments of creativity was like seeing the hands of God at work," McDonough City Councilwoman Sandra Vincent said on Twitter Sunday morning.
In an interview with Atlanta public radio station WABE that aired just a few days ago, Davis called the MLK commission "a jovial burden" and said he was "floating."
“To be able to have the nod from the King family and the governor and the state to choose me to do this is quite an honor that I’m going to put my life into — to make sure that everybody’s proud.”
The King statue is slated to go up at the new Liberty Plaza near the Capitol.
“Art is color blind,” Davis said when asked on WABE about being tapped for the King statue as a white man. “Art is not black. It’s not white. It’s not Chinese. It’s not anything. It is what it is. It’s what you bring to it.”
Davis’ statue of Patrick Henry, for whom Henry County is named, was unveiled in March 2014. His Ray Charles statue, which shows the singer at a grand piano, was unveiled in 2007.
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Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com