A University student died Feb. 17 after sustaining head trauma in a car wreck, his family said.
Orish Jamar Carter, 26, was majoring in marketing, but his sister, Michelle Watkins, 44, said his true passion was his theater minor.
“When he graduated, he was going to try and get an acting job,” she said. “He was in a lot of plays in high school, and he had the lead role in ‘A Higher Place than Heaven.’”
Carter, known to his friends and family as Jamar, planned to go to California or New York to pursue acting after graduating high school, but his parents thought he wasn’t ready, and the University of Mississippi had offered him an academic scholarship.
“We thought those cities were too big for him, and he might start hanging out with the wrong folks and be persuaded to get into bad things, so we told him to try Ole Miss out for awhile,” Carter’s father, Orish Carter Sr., 69, said.
But Carter wanted to attend Alabama, and after a year at Ole Miss, he transferred.
“He loved the University of Alabama,” Orish Carter said. “He liked crimson and white. We had lots of red and white flowers on his casket.”
Steve Pitts, 27, said he met Carter in 2000, and they instantly clicked as friends.
“I met [Carter] on my [high school] graduation day,” Pitts said. “I invited him to a party I had for graduation because we had a mutual friend. We just started hanging out every day that whole summer and stayed friends through college.”
Carter was a quiet person, but he was also a leader in their group of friends.
“We called him Coach Carter, because when we would go out or be doing something, we would ask ‘What’s the play, coach? What are we doing next?’” Pitts said.
“When it was time to speak, he would speak, and when he said something, it counted.”
Carter’s loyalty is what Pitts said he will miss most.
“He had my back, I had his back,” he said. “He would always be willing to make time for somebody.
“I’ll just miss his presence.”
Orish Carter said he tried to instill important life lessons in his son.
“[He knew] his daddy was trying to make a man out of him, that’s basically what it was,” he said. “I would tell him, ‘Nobody gives you anything, you have to earn everything.’ ”
Watkins said if she learned anything from Carter, it was how to love.
“That’s one of the things our family is big on—love, and I’m sure Jamar had love because he was such a caring person.
“[He taught me] to live life and enjoy life and have fun. That’s one of the things I know Jamar did. He was always happy,” she said.
Melanie Miller, associate dean of students, said Carter’s death will not go unnoticed.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Orish Carter’s family and friends,” she said. “He was an important member of the University of Alabama community and he will be missed.”
Though they are still struggling to make sense of their loss, Carter’s family said they know he is in a better place.
“He’s with the Lord now, and that’s the best place he can be,” Orish Carter said. “As long as I know he’s there, it’s alright.
“I just thank God for letting me have him for the 26 years he was here,” he said.