No doubt, the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City will forever be labeled a day of infamy in United States history.
But for Memphian Kaye Davis, that day also is one she will cherish for the rest of her life.
As Davis tells it, anytime someone brings of the terrorist attacks that transpired 13 years ago, she quickly enlightens them that such a tumultuous event unfolded on the birthdays of her son, Maurio Batts and her older brother, Kevin Whitmore.
For Davis, a Whitehaven High graduate, arguably the most identifiable day in American history essentially brings her to smiles, considering it affords her the opportunity to pay homage to two individuals whom she describes as two of her most favorite.
“In my eyes, 9/11 has to be a special day because it created two very special people in two very different times, in 1964 and 1996, in the same family on September 18 years ago,” Davis told MemphiSport during a recent interview.
Looking back, Davis can recall exactly where she was at the time news spread of the attacks on New York.
“I was picking up my son from daycare,” Davis explained. “Now I have not been to New York, but I would say that we have come a long way because we are aware of terrorism and the cover-ups in Washington.”
Nowadays, however, Davis often becomes the beneficiary of an array of jokes and punch-lines surrounding September 11.
“Well I get a lot of jokes about 9/11” said Davis, “because so many people died. But the way I look at it is God created some good people on that day also.”
Among those “good people” is Batts, Davis’ 18-year-old son who, to his credit, continues to bring joy to the life of his mother.
A 2014 graduate of East High, Batts is currently a member of Jackson State University’s band that is has been famously deemed “The Sonic Boom Of The South.”
During Saturday’s 25th annual Southern Heritage Classic, Davis and a host of family members were was among the estimated 50,000 spectators on hand to watch Jackson State square off against Tennessee State.
Though JSU was dealt a lopsided 35-7 loss to their arch rivals, Davis still was left smiling and gazing into the blue skies as her son took part in what was an exuberant performance during the halftime’s “Battle of the Bands.”
“I was proud of him for making the band,” Davis said of her son, who was named a member of the JSU band in early August. “I knew he could do it because that is all he ever did. I was there and cheering him on when he came to the Liberty Bowl. I couldn’t wait because we haven’t heard the trumpet since he left (for school). He has been through some changes these past 30 days and he overcame every problem that came his way. We got our tickets as soon as we found out he made it.”
Following Batts on-field display, Davis bolted the stadium and joined the rest of her family for a joyous, festive occasion for her brother, a Hamilton High and Morehouse College graduate who turned 50 on September 11.
By all accounts, that she got to savor the best of both worlds — watching her son fulfill his dream of performing as part of a college band and celebrating her brother’s 50th birthday — days after arguably the most historic day in American history gave way to what was a memorable weekend.
Never mind that her son’s school wound up on the losing end of Saturday’s game.
“It was my first time celebrating with a new family,” Batts said of the halftime performance.
Though he was five years old at the time the terrorist attacks transpired, Batts said that hasn’t in any shape or form overshadowed the splendor surrounding his birthday.
“I was only five,” Batts said. “I remember seeing it all over the news for a while. But my main focus (weeks leading to the Southern Heritage Classic) was outplaying TSU.”
As far as his mother is concerned, he did just that.
Next up for Batts: A Battle of the Bands showdown Saturday versus Grambling State at 6 p.m. CDT.
No doubt, his mother will be all smiles once again.
Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NFL and the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.