A minister stepped to the podium and gazed at those mourning Lavar Crawford, asking for their approval before he started the ceremony.

“I have my notes in front of me, but is it okay if I speak from the heart, human to human,” Minister Brian Sessions asked. The crowd consented.

Approximately 200 of Crawford’s family and friends gathered, Feb. 6, at the Joseph H. Brown Funeral Home on Fulton Ave. in Baltimore to remember the 16-year-old, who was gunned down on Jan. 25 along East 28th Street. He is the youngest of more than two dozen murder victims in the city this year.

Sessions came with a positive message of reassurance in God’s greatness through the good times and the bad times.

“Lavar completed his purpose and is now waiting for us to complete ours,” said Sessions. “God never makes a mistake.” That statement drew a mixed reaction from the crowd.

During the service, many young women sobbed, while young men sat in silence.

Michael A. Crawford Jr., Lavar’s brother, wore all white, matching his brother’s outfit. He appeared greatly affected during the service, leaning over on the casket and looking at his brother as if talking to him, and appeared in disbelief.

In addition to a eulogy, family members wrote poems that were showcased in the service program and read aloud. Lartasha Newton, Crawford’s mother, shared a poem entitled “A Mother’s Pain.” Her poem displayed a tone of shock for the sudden death of her boy.

Another poem came from Crawford’s grandmother, entitled “For My Meat From Your G-MA.” She expressed her grandson’s personality and talent, and remembered his singing, dancing, rapping and poems.

Unique Coleman wrote a letter to Crawford entitled “Dear Lavar.” She said Crawford was her first love and she will always remember the good times they had together. She said she was upset that he was taken away, but glad he doesn’t have to be in this cruel world any longer.

Before concluding, Sessions posed a striking question.

“When life throws you a curve ball, what will be your response,” he asked.

He urged the crowd to continue to move on in this painful time. Following a final viewing, Crawford was laid to rest at Arbutus Memorial Park on Sulphur Spring Rd.