Still Standing: The Love of a Brother, Lost

“I’m going to college and I’m playing ball. I did something positive.” – Marquell Jenkins, the optimist


Marquell Jenkins, 18, keeps a video saved on his phone. In it, the late summer light casts a warm glow on a mostly empty basketball court. Jenkins, who wears gray sweatpants and no shirt, dribbles the basketball forward, spinning left around his older brother, Germaine Reid, who stands midcourt. As he makes his way toward the basket, he elegantly tosses up the ball and lands it in the hoop. When the ball hits the pavement, the two reset and start the drill again. 

Over the last few months, Jenkins has watched the short clip hundreds of times. He likes to view it when he feels low. And Jenkins has weathered many bad days since Reid, 27, was fatally shot last October outside a Citgo station on Silver Spring Drive. “Those were the good times,” recalls Jenkins. “It’s just us talking trash. If somebody sees the video, they might think we’re arguing, but that’s just how we show love. That’s our love and that’s our bond.” The video, he says, always cheers him up.

Jenkins first met Reid, who shares the same father as Jenkins, when he was 10. “It was so amazing to me,” says Jenkins. “I had a brother I could look up to and belong to. It was love at first sight.” In the years following, Jenkins and Reid grew close. They would often face off at the basketball court. Jenkins, who stands at 6-foot-5, towered over his brother, a fact that made the two laugh. Pickup games also offered Reid the opportunity to share brotherly advice. One piece hit particularly close: “He always told me, ‘I want you to do good and seek your full potential.’ He had fallen into the negativity, and he didn’t want that for me. He told me not be another statistic.”



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Jenkins still holds onto that message. He preaches optimism like gospel. Before graduating, Jenkins tried to share that same outlook with his classmates. “I was the school announcer, and I would start each day by saying, ‘Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a new day at Harold S. Vincent High School, where we grow into our full potential and cultivate leaders,’” laughs Jenkins. “We started each the day with positivity.”

These days, Jenkins intends to spread that same spirit through a YouTube channel he plans to build out called DailyNews WithQuell

Maintaining the role of neighborhood booster isn’t easy, but Jenkins, who was recruited to play basketball at the UW-Green Bay Sheboygan campus, remains determined. “Sometimes when I drive past the spot where my brother was killed,  I feel like I can hear the gunshots,” he says. “It can be traumatizing. But I don’t avoid driving past because every time I do, I always think, I did what Germaine told me to do. I’m going to college and I’m playing ball. I did something positive.”

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This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s May issue.

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