FORT SMITH (KFSM)-- Wednesday evening (Jan. 27), a vigil was held in memory of 22-year-old Kaleb Watson who was shot during a home invasion Saturday (Jan. 23).
Dozens of friends and family members gathered under the University of Arkansas Fort Smith bell tower to remember Watson, who was an engineering student at the university.
“We always called him a knucklehead,” Jeff Holt, Watson’s first grade basketball coach, recalled. “He was a character, always making people laugh.”
Holt said he remembers Watson being quick mentally and physically even at an early age.
“He'd get the basketball and tuck in under his arm like a football, and before they could blow the whistle he was at the other end of the court,” Holt said.
Many of Watson's friends shared memories of meeting him at the basketball court on campus, but Holt remembers Watson's first basket.
“When he would score, he would jump up and take his hands down, and say, ‘I'm the man,’ but Kaleb was the man,” Holt said.
Nearly every person who shared memories of the former UAFS student said he was a friend to everyone, and he could make anybody laugh.
“If somebody dared him he would do it,” Holt said. “Nothing bad, he was a good kid. If somebody dared him to do something to make somebody laugh, he was in it.”
Friends from high school and college shared memories of a young man who loved basketball and seemed to have a friend everywhere he went, but Holt said to him, Watson will always be a little boy with a big smile.
“He was just a wonderful kid,” Holt said. “I mean, now you look at him, and he's a young man, but for me it's a kid.”
UAFS released a statement saying, “Kaleb lived off-campus, and this incident occurred off campus, but regardless of where our students live, we are concerned about the safety and the security of all of them. We extend our deepest condolences to Kaleb's family and friends during this difficult time, and will be providing counseling for UAFS students as needed."