They were the crew. The gang. Da Boyz who walked the halls at Oakland Mills High School.
They played lacrosse together. Vacationed together. Grew up together. And when it was time to part as they began graduating from high school, Kevans Bradshaw Hall II was the glue in that tight bond of friendship. He wrote, called, visited -- anything to keep them together.
It is in that same spirit that family and friends will come home from as far as Delaware and South Carolina to gather at James A. Morton & Sons Funeral Home in Baltimore tomorrow for a viewing and Thursday for Hall's funeral. Just to be in the presence of someone they described as bright, affectionate, outgoing and big-hearted.
Just to say one last goodbye.
Hall, 23, and longtime friend Matthew Christopher Wichita, 21, died hundreds of miles from home Thursday at a Florida resort when they were brutally beaten with baseball bats and stabbed by a group of men. Two other friends escaped unharmed, but a third, Seth Kenyon Qubeck, 21, was stabbed 17 times and is recuperating in a Daytona Beach hospital.
The image of how Hall -- dubbed K-Love and Nev by his family and friends -- died is more than his loved ones can bear.
"He didn't have time to take anyone's hand," said his 70-year-old grandmother, Delia Hall. "There was no family there to console him. I don't know how he suffered. So far away from home. Everyone is taking it hard. It is so terrible, I still can't believe it."
Few could comprehend the killing. The trip to Florida was nothing new. Hall had gone to Panama City, Fla., with other Oakland Mills buddies the previous year. Clubs galore, music videos, girls and the beach made it a blast, his friends recalled.
This year, Hall opted for New Smyrna Beach.
"It's just senseless," said Daniel Voyles, 22, Hall's best friend from Columbia, who saw him in South Carolina the weekend before his death. "They dropped Sam Smith's dog off so I could baby-sit while they were vacationing. When he left, I said, 'Have a good time. See you when you get back.'"
Starting sometime after 1 a.m. Friday, family and friends began hearing the news by phone. It came in bits and pieces:
Hall and the boys were in Florida. Helped a girl who was being hassled by some guys about an inexpensive friendship ring. About 20 guys came back. There were baseball bats and knives. Kevans dead. Wichita dead. Four arrested.
Hall's mother, Jill Carter, found out from Hall's younger brother, Tajuan, 20.
"He walked up on the steps with this look on his face," said Carter, 44, of Baltimore. "I asked him what was wrong and he said, 'Ma, Nev is gone.' He bust out crying. I thought he was just upset that Nev went to Florida without him, but he said, 'No Ma. Nev is gone. He's dead.' "
Longtime Columbia friend Daniel Stoutenborough said, "My blood went cold," when he got a call at 2: 30 a.m.
"I lost it," said Stoutenborough, 19, a student at Barton College in North Carolina. "I had to come home. He was the nicest person anyone could meet. Everyone liked him. He had an aura to him. He could walk into a room and brighten it up in a second."
Hall had been lighting up many rooms since high school. A lacrosse player, wrestler and ROTC member, Hall was a good student who knew just about everybody. And a good brother.
"Nev used to complain to me, 'Ma, he's three years younger than me. Does he have to come?' " Carter said. "But I felt sorry for his brother, so Tajuan tagged along everywhere. They became close. That's why Nev had so many younger friends.
"Nev loved everything about them," Carter said. "He would hang around with his buddies and say, 'K-Love is in the house.' Or he'd come home and they'd wrestle each other or his cousins, his nieces and me. He loved that. He was just playful."
Hall loved to travel, too, and did so often. Upon graduating from Oakland Mills in 1992, he joined the Air Force and within two years moved from New Jersey to Texas and then Hawaii.
From every new location, he would send letters and pictures.
"He would always write me," said Voyles, who flew back from Limestone College in South Carolina when he heard the news. "He would send me pictures of him, his new friends, his Air Force uniform. Just to show me what he used to do there."
Hall returned from the Air Force when his mother needed financial help. He moved into a townhouse in Columbia with one of the Oakland Mills crew, Sam Smith. He started taking classes at Howard Community College and took a waiter's job at the Columbia Inn.
Life, as Hall told his best friend, was good.
"He grew into a big wonderful man," Voyles said. "I love him with all my heart."
Pub Date: 4/21/98