Brittney Hill was a cheerleader in life

Published 9:24 pm Saturday, April 22, 2017

Davion Brown stood on the stage over Brittney Hill’s casket and glanced from the funeral spray of pink roses, to the audience of nearly 900 mourners and the large picture of Hill displayed on an easel beside him.

It’s a picture taken of Hill on Good Friday. She’s posing for her mama in her burgundy prom dress just minutes after she’d gotten her hair and makeup perfect and minutes before she took off in a 2007 Nissan Sentra to meet her boyfriend for the prom. She never made it.

Hill, 18, died soon after in a two-car collision on Zetus Road.

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Brown, a classmate of Hill’s at Brookhaven High School, reminisced about the young woman he knew at Ole Brook.

She was tenacious and headstrong, and sometimes could have an attitude when she knew she was right about something. “All these years, I tried my best to stay on Brittney’s good side,” he said, breaking the tension in the large auditorium. The audience laughed and many shook their heads in agreement.

That wasn’t always possible, he admitted, and when he — or anyone  else — got on the other side, “someone they call BB comes out.”

Fortunately for Brown, that rarely happened.

The woman he usually saw was fiercely loyal, energetic and a cheerleader on the softball diamond and in life. She was ambitious and had her future planned. She wanted to improve her game so he could earn scholarships to college. Hill wanted to be a narcotics agent to get drugs off the streets of Brookhaven.

“She had the personality for it,” her mother, Shanika Hill, said last week.

Hill was friendly to everyone she knew, but she told Brown she didn’t know everybody. And there was a reason.

She was selective.

“She told me, ‘You have to be cautious of who you let in your circle,’” he said.

Judging by the attendance of her funeral service, which was held Saturday at Alexander Jr. High School auditorium, she let more people in than she realized.

The service lasted more than two hours and included words of comfort by Brown as well as childhood coach Al Johnson, coach Mandy Vinson, family member Rev. Michael Smith and former principal Jason Case, who was at West Lincoln with Hill before she moved to Brookhaven High School.

Johnson talked about her skills in the outfield and praised her ability to outrun a softball. “She should have been called Beep Beep,” he joked.

Vinson told a story about a time when Hill was up to bat and called a timeout at the plate. It seems the umpire called a second strike on her yet she’d only seen one pitch. She called him on it.

“We love her and we’ll miss her dearly, but we know she’s with us,” Vinson said.

The daughter of Shanika Hill of the Zetus community and Brian Thomas of Wesson, Hill lived with her grandmother, Mae Butler, in Brookhaven so she could go to Ole Brook, where she played fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball.

The Deep South Riders motorcycle club escorted the family to the funeral service and then later to Siloam Church Cemetery.

The Rev. Samuel Collins, of Siloam M.B. Church, officiated the services.