More than a hundred members of the University of Indianapolis community gathered in Key Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 9, to honor the life of junior communication major Koebe Clopton. The bleachers were a sea of red, Clopton’s favorite color, as attendees were asked to wear the color to honor him. Speeches by Clopton’s friends and teammates about their favorite memories of him moved those in attendance to tears. This event concluded with attendants releasing red and white balloons at the stadium’s center field.
According to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 20-year-old Clopton was shot and killed in Indianapolis on Thursday, Sept. 2. Kory Vitangeli, vice president for student and campus affairs and dean of students, said the Celebration of Life event came about when some of Clopton’s friends approached her and asked to plan an event to commemorate his life. According to Vitangeli, it was important for the campus to recognize Clopton’s life and the impact he had on the university.
“We really took the direction from the students and talked about ideas and things that we could assist with in terms of helping with printing and buying the balloons, and making sure that we help[ed] with logistics,” Vitangeli said. “But in terms of who should speak and how the service should go, that really was what the students wanted.”
Clopton was a member of the UIndy football team for two years. Head Football Coach Chris Keevers said Clopton had an upbeat personality that brought people together. In his speech, an emotional Keevers said he admired Clopton’s positivity and determination.
“I’ve coached for 33 years and rarely [do] you see a guy that walks in[to] the facility smiling, goes and practices for two and a half hours, smiles the whole practice, and walks out of the facility with a big smile,” Keevers said. “That’s Koebe.”
Junior computer science major Aaron Barnett was Clopton’s best friend and roommate for the past three years. In his speech, Barnett said that he believes God brought the two of them together and that they were like brothers.
“We didn’t always see eye-to-eye and that was honestly one of the best parts of our relationship because it allowed us to grow from each other,” Barnett said. “And we shared each other’s thought processes. We shared each other’s memories, each other’s stories and what we wanted to do in the future. And it was really two people from different places coming together and working as one.”
Barnett said that one of his favorite things about Clopton was his love for other people. According to Barnett, Clopton was at his happiest when saw others succeed.
“Not only did Koebe love himself, but he loved others,” Barnett said. “Not only did Koebe want himself to succeed and be the best, but he wanted others to do the same. He wanted to see everybody win.”
Junior sports management major Joshua Benson said he too, was friends with Clopton for three years. In his speech, Benson remembered Clopton as a loving and outgoing person. He said Clopton inspired him to be a better person.
Keevers said he was touched by the number of people who came to show their love for Clopton. He said the university did an unbelievable job of planning the event.
“I think the celebration of life was unbelievable,” Keevers said. “The university did such a fantastic job, and the students came out, and it was such a good showing. And I just can’t say enough about what the university did. This was . . . this was really nice.”