One of Nate Evans’ favorite Bible passages was from Matthew: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” That’s how he lived his life, almost without exception.
“Nate didn’t judge people,” said Carl Fowler, who became his roommate and teammate at William and Mary two summers ago. “He let them ride their own wave — unless it was style.
“I waked into his room that first summer we were here, and he goes ‘Are those cargo shorts?’ I say, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘That’s OK, bro, we’ll go shopping.’ My parents asked why I never wear cargo shorts anymore, and I said, ‘Because Nate thought they were lame.’”
During a Monday night ceremony in Kaplan Arena, Evans was remembered as a stylish, energetic, and supportive friend and teammate who loved tattoos, J. Cole, and football. His life ended Thursday night in Norfolk, when police say he was fatally shot near the corner of 43rd and Colley.
It’s been a terrible four days for the program, the community, and his family. Monday night’s cold rain reflected the mood. But with about 1,500 people in Kaplan’s stands, there were tears, laughter, and even some motivational words from football coach Mike London.
“My speeches to the team getting ready for the games and life are always full of energy because of the possibilities,” he said. “My speech today is still going to be full of energy and full of life because of the possibilities with everyone sitting in this room.
“Nate was competitive. He wanted the best out of everybody. He was an ‘anyway’ kind of guy. Anyway! He went the extra mile — anyway.”
Fowler praised how Evans supported his teammates, in addition to virtual strangers.
“There was a student-athlete event here, and Nate got up in front of a couple hundred people he barely knew,” Fowler said. “And he was vulnerable. He talked about things he was dealing with and opened himself up to hundreds of people.
“And then he offered himself. He said, ‘If you don’t have my number, ask somebody for it. I’m a text or a phone call away.’ He didn’t know those people, but he was there for them.”
Fowler had to compose himself several times, but he also drew several laughs with stories.
“He loved J. Cole so much that he had the Born Sinner album art tattooed on his ankle,” Fowler said. “That doesn’t mean much, because Nate had everything tatted everywhere. But he liked J. Cole nonetheless.
“That’s how he connected with so many people, through music. He’d be playing something ... ‘Nate what is this?’ He goes, ‘Oh, it’s this, they’re on this record label, they have these songs, it came out this year.’ You ask anybody, he’d put them on to somebody.”
Fowler then quoted lyrics from J. Cole that included the line “I said do you wanna, do you wanna be free?” After composing himself, Fowler continued.
“I don’t care what you believe, who you pray to, if you pray it all,” he said. “Whatever you believe, Nate’s free. He’s free from things he woke up and battled every day. Free from the things on earth that brought him pain.”
Claudia Marie Sanshez-Beato Johnson, a friend of Evans’, said she plans to devote her life to his memory.
“You planted a seed in all of us, and we will take care of it, I promise,” she said. “Every single breath I take is for you, Nate. I will honor you by living life to its fullest.”
The evening concluded with Stephanie Dulaney, the Football Parent Chair, reading a moving letter from Brandi Evans-Fose to her son.
“You were my world, Nate,” Dulaney read with Evans-Fose seated in the first row. “I felt like my world centered around you. I wouldn’t change that for anything. Every smile, every hug, every debate, every conversation, I will hold onto forever. …
“You are such a bright light, Nate. I’ve never met a soul who spent time around you who hasn’t been caught up in your light. It was a special gift. Though the road ahead seems extremely dark without you, I will be looking for your light every minute of every day.”
Dave Johnson, 757-247-4649, firstname.lastname@example.org, @DaveJohnsonDP