Mercer basketball’s Jibri Bryan shot and killed Tuesday afternoon

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Image: Jenna Eason

Mercer’s Jibri Bryan (34), right, goes for a basket with Wofford’s Lee Skinner (34) defending.

Hayes Rule, Staff Writer

Jibri Bryan never let injuries deter him. The sixth-year senior battled through a season-ending injury as a redshirt sophomore and a knee injury this year, which kept him out of 17 games this year. But he never stopped.

When some doubted his return, he stormed the court in a shining knee brace – all while his 2-year-old son watched from the sideline, eagerly awaiting for the opportunity to crawl into his father’s arm at the end of the game.

But Bryan’s comeback came to a tragic end inside a parked white Monte Carlo. Bryan was shot in the head and killed by an unknown gunman Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Flash Foods gas station on the corner of Forsyth and College streets. He was 23.

According to a report by Joe Kovac, Jr., of The Telegraph, Bryan was taken to a local hospital with his injuries. The Telegraph confirmed that he died later, becoming the first homicide in Macon this calendar year. Wednesday, Kovac updated the story with news that Bibb County sheriff’s investigators charged Jarvis Clinton Miller with the murder.

“Jibri Bryan was a very special man who was a great contributor to our team and did everything that was asked of him,” said Mercer head coach Bob Hoffman in an official statement released by the team. “He was important to us in every way. I loved him and cared about him from the very first time he was on our campus. We grew to be very close over the years. Our thoughts and prayers are with his special family.”

Mercer University President William D. Underwood also released a statement showing his support for the Bryan family while Athletic Director Jim Cole said in his statement that not only will the basketball team miss Bryan’s company but so will the athletics department.

“The Mercer athletic family is deeply saddened by Jibri’s passing,” Cole said. “Jibri was always cheerful and greeted everyone in the department with a smile.”

But Hoffman, Underwood and Cole weren’t the only ones to show support for Bryan, the Mercer family and Mercer basketball Tuesday. Twitter erupted after the news was released, and the hashtag #BearStrong became a commonality among supporters.

Current teammates commented:

Students and fellow athletes also showed support:

As a redshirt junior, Bryan started all of Mercer’s 35 games and recorded career highs in points (7.8), rebounds (4.4), assists (1.3) and steals (1.4). This season, the senior averaged 3.2 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.

A candlelight vigil will be held for Bryan on Cruz Plaza at 9 p.m. on Wednesday. The event will be moved to Hawkins Arena if it rains.