By ZOE FISHER
Homicide Watch Chicago
Amari Catchings was only 18, but he was definitely a family man. “We got to stick together, no matter what,” his older brother, Joshua Rials, remembers him saying.
The youngest of three children, he was not a fan of arguing and was assigned the peacemaker role in his family. “He was the leader, a great leader,” his mother, Cristylist Rials, said.
On the day he died, Catchings was visiting a childhood friend, Dominic Gipson, whom he hadn’t seen since moving to Bloomington recently.
Catchings died of blunt force trauma June 21 when the stolen car they were riding in crashed as Gipson tried to elude a traffic stop, according to Chicago Police. Gipson’s attorney claims he had bought the car.
The 19-year-old Gipson is charged with reckless homicide, aggravated possession of a stolen vehicle and aggravated fleeing, and is being held on a $2 million bond, police said.
Catchings attended Ace Tech Charter High School at 54th and State, and was currently working at a Kroger store in Bloomington.
The week before his death, his grandmother, Sharon Brown, came from Bloomington to drive him to get a haircut for his sister’s graduation. He always asked, “Are you OK?” when he saw her, and that drive to the barbershop was no different, Brown said.
His love for family and friends usually kept him near his home on 71st Street or in Bloomington, where his brother and grandmother live. You could find him playing 2K16 or watching movies at his house. Otherwise, he would be out playing basketball or going to the park, Brown said.
She remembers him as a “chunky, chunky baby.” Brown said her husband once bought a whole bucket of Harold’s Chicken Shack and Catchings ate the whole chicken. “At least six to seven pieces,” she said laughing.
In most of his pictures, Catchings toted a wide grin and gentle eyes. “He kept a smile,” Brown said, “if he didn’t have a smile, something was on his mind.”
Since he was very young, his family remembered him being consistently clean. “He was like a little, stubborn old man,” his brother said with a chuckle. Catchings would notice if there was even a small piece of a candy wrapper on his bed, Rials explained.
He leaves behind his 2-month-old daughter, Nakayla Lei Marie. “He was an awesome dad,” Rials said, “I ain’t never seen that light in his eyes before.”