One New Orleans family chose to honor their deceased loved one’s life by dressing him up in his favorite attire and placing him in the setting he was most comfortable in during his wake.
Renard Joseph Matthews was shot in the head and killed on June 25 as he was taking his new dog for a walk around the Florida neighborhood of New Orleans, reported NOLA. The 18-year-old attended McDonogh 35 High School, and enjoyed playing basketball and football.
At his unique wake on Sunday, July 8, at the Charbonnet Labat Glapion Funeral Home in the Treme section of New Orleans, instead of exhibiting his body in an open casket, as traditionally done, his family set up a roped-off display that looked like the teen was just chilling out at home in his living room, reported Inside Edition.
Matthews’ body was propped up in a chair in front of a white entertainment center that contained a rather large television. A basketball video game featuring his favorite team, the Boston Celtics, was playing on the TV.
Described as a “bit of a homebody,” the tall teen clutched a PlayStation game controller in his hands as if he was ready to beat his opponents.
He was wearing a Celtics jersey, No. 11 for his favorite player, point guard Kyrie Irving. He also had on a black cap, black sunglasses, green socks emblazoned with Irving’s photograph, and black Nike sandals.
On a small table next to his chair, Matthews’ family placed some of the foods he most loved to eat, including a bag of Doritos, a 20-oz. bottle of Barq’s root beer, and Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. A box of Chocolate Chip Crunch cereal was beneath his chair.
Seats for the mourners who came to the wake to pay their respects were set up facing the display, which looked more like an exhibit one would find at a Madame Tussauds wax museum than at such a somber event.
Among the relatives Matthews has left behind are his mother, Temeka, and three sisters, Reion, Miracle, and Merlecedes, according to his NOLA obituary. His father had already passed on.
Matthews was slated to have a New Orleans-style jazz funeral today, July 11, before being buried at Providence Memorial Park and Mausoleum in Metairie, Louisiana.
Watch the video below to see how the unusual viewing at the funeral home was set up.
Police have not yet arrested Matthews’ shooter, and the investigation is said to be ongoing.