From the day Keyshaun Boyd was old enough to draw, it was clear he inherited his father William’s interest in the arts.
In kindergarten, Keyshaun would sign his name and follow it up with an illustration. When he found an artbook compiled by his dad he would eagerly sift through it and pull out a picture to duplicate.
“I can’t draw to save my life,” said Shonna Boyd, Keyshaun’s mother. “It always amazed me how both of them can look at something and draw it. I don’t have that type of talent.”
William was a local tattoo artist who worked out of their house, and it wasn’t long before Keyshaun, too, became intrigued by the artistry of the human canvas.
He longed for a tattoo, and there was only one thing holding him back: Mom’s apprehension. Since Keyshaun was still early in his teenage years, Shonna wanted him to wait before getting inked.
“They did wait — waited until I was gone one day,” Shonna said with a laugh. “I came home and (William) had tattooed him.”
Keyshaun has several tattoos now — all done by his father — the most meaningful of which is his last name on his left bicep. On that same arm, he has an illustration of a football player and the passage ‘His Mercy Endures Forever.’ His chest is similarly cloaked with various designs.
But his collection may be complete at the age of 16.
Keyshaun hasn’t lost his passion for tattoos, but he’s lost his artist.
“If I ever was to get another one, it would be really hard,” Keyshaun said. “I’ve never had anyone else do my tattoos except for him.”
* * *
When Keyshaun drifted off to sleep on Sept. 6, life was good.
His Poston Butte football team had beaten Dobson for its second straight victory, and both of his parents were in the stands to watch it happen.
William Boyd wasn’t perfect, but he had regularly been there for his son, which isn’t always the case for the students at Poston Butte.
“We’ve got an interesting demographic,” football coach Mike De La Torre said. “We’re a community from all over the place, with (families) moving in from other parts of town, from out of state. Finding common ground is interesting. We’ve got all the problems of any urban school. We don’t struggle with rough kids but we do have rough problems in what they’re dealing with.”
Keyshaun said he had been asleep for a couple hours that night when his mom entered his room and ordered him out of bed.
“Wake up,” she told him. “Get dressed. Your dad just got shot.”
William’s plan was to pick up Keyshaun from school after the Dobson game, but instead received a call to attend a tattoo party in Phoenix.
Shonna dropped William off at his mother’s house, and he met up with acquaintances who he’d had prior problems with, Keyshaun said. An argument ensued and William was shot at point-blank range, Keyshaun said.
Shonna and Keyshaun bounced around several hospitals after the information was relayed to them that William was hurt, trying desperately to figure out his location and condition. The police were staying tight-lipped because of the ongoing investigation, but the family finally found the right hospital.
Once there, a police officer delivered Shonna the sombering news: the gunshot wound was fatal.
Keyshaun was told moments later.
“Honestly, I couldn’t believe it,” Keyshaun said. “I was like, ‘I had just seen him a couple hours ago. This can’t be true.’”
De La Torre was still in a cheery mood that night. He had just faced off against a Dobson team which was coached by his father, George, an event both of them had been looking forward to for months.
The Broncos were back at practice the next day with a bounce in their step, until the news of William Boyd’s death trickled down.
“We talked to the team the next morning to let them know,” De La Torre said. “You could see it in the kids’ faces, like, ‘Man, that’s tough to take.’”
De La Torre told Boyd to take the week off from practice, but he returned after a few days and played in the game that Friday against Tucson Marana.
He didn’t miss a day of school after his father’s death, preferring to be around classmates, teammates and coaches than dwelling on the events at home.
“He told me he didn’t want to stay home,” Shonna said. “He said, ‘The more I stay home, the more I think about it.’ I told him, ‘If you’re ready, go ahead and go back.’ Everyone deals with their grieving differently.”
Keyshaun missed his father’s viewing because of the Friday football game, but when Shonna sent him pictures of William dressed up in an outfit she had bought him, Keyshaun broke down.
The next day at the funeral was even worse. It was then that the realization hit.
“I was up at the casket for like two hours,” Keyshaun said. “I just couldn’t believe it.”
* * *
William Boyd’s death was just six weeks ago, and the pain is still very fresh.
“Normally I used to go home, put myself in my room then go in the room to talk to him,” Keyshaun said. “One day I did that and I forgot he was gone. That really got to me.”
Shonna said there are good days and bad days, but the family support is helping them get through it.
De La Torre said he’s seen instances where a tragic event will lead to a downward spiral in a teenager’s life. However, Keyshaun’s grades have stayed up and he has remained on the football team.
Recently, another Poston Butte player, senior linebacker Antonio Garcia, lost his father, and Keyshaun was the first one to volunteer a helping hand.
“Keyshaun came over right away and said, ‘Coach do I need to go talk to him?’” De La Torre said. “I’m sure they shared some experiences. They can relate to each other.”
Keyshaun continues to take art classes, and his love of drawing hasn’t waned. One day, he may follow in his father’s footsteps and become a tattoo artist.
Looking back on it now, Shonna is glad her husband and son didn’t listen to her about waiting on the tattoos.
Even though William isn’t around any longer, his artwork will now endure forever on Keyshaun’s body.
“It’s a nice memory for him to have,” Shonna said. “I know it’s something he cherishes.”