Ahmir Jones had overcome so much.
The 18-year-old spent most of his life in the foster system, bouncing between group homes and spending about six years at a Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health facility in West Chester. Despite a difficult childhood, he had started to turn his life around, family and friends said. He was living with a foster family in Pottstown, where he was a senior at Pottstown High School and a member of the varsity soccer team.
“His life was just beginning,” said Alizay Harris, who was a member of Jones’ support team at Devereux for a year.
Jones was fatally shot in the chest in North Philadelphia just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 16. He was walking with his girlfriend on the 1700 block of Cecil B. Moore Avenue when the pair were approached by two men, at least one of whom was armed and announced a robbery, a police spokesperson said.
One of the men grabbed the girlfriend’s cell phone, police said, and the other shot Jones in the chest before fleeing. He was taken to Temple University Hospital and died less than two hours later.
In the weeks after his death, Jones’ family and friends have remembered him as a fun-loving, energetic young man who made friends with everyone and took every opportunity to show people his dance moves.
“I still don’t want to believe it,” Melody Jones, 36, said of losing her eldest son.
“The challenges he was trying to overcome, and to know he changed his life around,” said Harris, who also saw Ahmir like a son. “He made it to senior year of high school. He did it.”
Ahmir Jones’ death was the first of two fatal armed robberies near Temple University’s campus within less than two weeks. Police didn’t respond to additional questions about Jones’ death, including whether a suspect had been identified. It was unclear if his killing was related to a second homicide that took place near Temple’s campus Sunday.
In that incident, police said 17-year-old Latif Williams killed 21-year-old Temple student Samuel Collington during an attempted carjacking in the 2200 block of North Park Avenue.
Williams surrendered to police Wednesday. He was charged in a separate armed carjacking earlier this year, and law enforcement sources said he is being investigated for several armed robberies in the area.
Ahmir Jones, born in South Philly, spent most of his life in the foster system. At Devereux, he was like a big brother and role model to many other young men, said Karima Brown, who was part of Jones’ Devereux support team for three years.
“He was one of the special ones,” Brown said.
He left the West Chester facility in 2020 for a juvenile detention center and earlier this year was placed with a foster family in Pottstown. He had gone to stay with a friend in North Philadelphia for a few days the week he was killed and was shot a few blocks from where he was staying, just three blocks from Temple University.
“People said, ‘Oh, he wasn’t a Temple student.’ That doesn’t matter,” said Harris. “He was loved.”
Despite the family’s difficulties, Ahmir, or “Mir” to many, was close to his four sisters and frequently called his mom to catch up, said Melody Jones, who lives in Darby, Delaware County.
“Every time before we hang up, he would be like, ‘Mom, I love you,’” she said.
On Wednesday, she looked at the Christmas tree she had set up in her living room, and adjusted a gold crown ornament. It was new, and in Ahmir’s honor, she said, “because he’s my king.”
Ahmir was a jokester who wanted to make everyone smile, family and friends said. He hoped to enroll in the Army after graduating, his mom said.
Most of all, he loved to dance. Desarae Jones, Ahmir’s 19-year-old sister, giggled as she watched a video Wednesday of Ahmir jumping into the frame and busting moves to a song by rapper Megan Thee Stallion.
“He was just fun-loving,” stepfather Daryl Dawkins said.
He played football and basketball and most recently took up soccer. Jake Moser, senior captain of the Pottstown High soccer team, said Ahmir “was always encouraging and uplifting to everyone.”
“I personally struggled with mental health throughout the season, and Ahmir always made it a point to ask me if everything was all good,” said Moser, 17.
At a time when more than 500 people have died by homicide in Philadelphia this year, Moser said he doesn’t want Ahmir to be a statistic: “He is and was way more than that.”
A funeral will be held in Sharon Hill, Delaware County, on Saturday.
Staff writer Anna Orso contributed to this article.