BY INDIRA MOOSAI
Jamal Nganga was loving and lively, according to his mother, Ebla Ibrahim. He was raised to be open-minded, growing up with a Somali mother and Kenyan father, though living in Silver Spring, Maryland. He loved his friends and family, and was the go-to person to talk to about your problems because he would listen, she said.
“He was very lovely, lively, and helpful,” Ibrahim said. “And he will be missed.”
Tampa Police Department (TPD) and Tampa Fire Rescue responded to a call on Nov. 30 at the Barrymore Hotel where they found Nganga unresponsive. He was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. TPD reports no foul play and the case remains open as they are awaiting a report from the Medical Examiner’s Office regarding cause of death. UT administration did not comment on the matter.
Ibrahim reflects on fond moments with her son, but says that ultimately, his whole life was a special moment.
Nganga had a younger brother, Nabil Nganga, who he lived in Africa with for a year, according to Ibrahim. They were well-traveled as a family, said Ibrahim. They would travel to Nganga’s basketball tournaments every weekend.
Nganga had a passion for basketball, which he played competitively from elementary to high school, as part of Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) according to Ibrahim.
“We would go every weekend for a basketball tournament in different states,” Ibrahim said. “When he would score 3 points, he would look up at me with a smile.”
At UT, Nganga was a junior who studied business administration. He always wanted to be wealthy and successful, according to Ibrahim. “I always told him the sky is your limit,” Ibrahim said. “Strive for the sky and you will get to where you need to.”
“We were all together in utter shock and despair refusing to believe what just happened,” said Igor Radwanski, president of Sigma Chi and junior finance major. “It was a very difficult time.”
Nganga was a member of the fraternity Sigma Chi since his pledge-ship in the fall of 2015, where he was incredibly close to his friends and brothers, and according to Radwanski; he loved his fraternity and UT.
“I’ll never forget that day, I’ve never felt pain like that before in my life, “ said Nganga’s friend, Lindsay Nathanson, junior history major.
Nathanson said she and Nganga were part of a tight-knit friend group, and he was one of those people who did not have one bad thing to say about anyone. He radiated positivity and was an extremely loyal and caring friend.
“We shared the same favorite rapper, Meek Mill,” Nathanson said. “Any time we were in the same room and heard a Meek song come on, we’d start singing it together at the top of our lungs like crazy people, but it was the best feeling ever.”
Radwanski said that a day doesn’t pass where he doesn’t remember Nganga. He said Nganga’s character has influenced more people in the short 20 years he was alive, than some people get to influence throughout an entire lifetime.
“In a word, Jamal was the absolute man,” Radwanski said. “Incredibly kind-hearted, generous in spirit, would always put a smile on your face and constantly had a genuine interest in how everyone was doing.”
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