BOILING SPRING LAKES, NC (WWAY) – An entire community is in mourning following the tragic loss of a young man described as vibrant and uplifting.
"James always had a smile on his face, always had a smile on his face,” said Dean Carroll, a teacher at South Brunswick High School. Even in the tough times he would find a way to make people happy."
They laughed together and they cried together, but Thursday night the South Brunswick Cougar family came together to celebrate the life of James Prince. Prince drowned Tuesday while swimming with friends on Oak Island.
"He always said he wanted to cry, but not once did I see a tear fall down his face,” said Anthony Jackson. “One day I asked him, "James why don't you ever cry?", and he said because it's not in my mentality. My mama tells me to save my tears for when I need them. So I tell people don't cry because he never did, and he wouldn't want anybody to cry."
Though James Prince only walked this earth for 17 short years the impact he had on those around him will carry on for years to come.
"James made an impact on my life,” said Jackson. “He made me change my whole life around because I was headed down south. James truly inspired me to get my mind right and keep focused in school as my number one key. That's what I did and now I'm going to graduate with him this Saturday."
"If someone were down he would put his arm around him and just okay man lets go, that type of thing,” said Carroll. He was just a nice person."
"We'll always be in my heart because before he left he said man I love you and stay safe,” said Jackson. “He said we would always be brothers in here. You might not see me all the time and you might not see me graduate or cross that stage but he was like look in my seat because I'm right there looking at you."
South Brunswick High School plans to leave James’ seat empty at graduation, and call his name so that he can still graduate with all of his friends.