Skateboarding was more than a hobby for Tyrone Ramsey Jr.
He first hopped on a board when he was about 9 years old, and he became a proficient rider over the next two decades. And he didn’t have a driver’s license, so his skateboard was his travel tool when he wasn’t riding the bus.
“That was his mode of transportation,” said his mother, Belinda Phillips. “He skateboarded everywhere.”
Ramsey was on his skateboard the evening of Aug. 30, when he was hit by a car in a fatal accident near the intersection of 23rd Street and Ocean Park Boulevard. He was pronounced dead at Providence Saint John’s Health Center that night. He was 29.
A funeral is scheduled for Sept. 19 in San Diego, where Ramsey was born. A memorial service will be held at some point after Sept. 25 in Santa Monica, where he spent most of his life.
“People are heartbroken,” Phillips said. “They can’t believe it. People loved him. There’s been such an outpouring of love and condolences for him.”
Phillips, loved ones and community members are left clinging to their memories of Ramsey, a skateboarding fixture on local streets and a young man with many Santa Monica ties.
In 2005 he graduated from Olympic High School, the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s continuation campus. He had previously attended John Adams Middle and Santa Monica High schools.
Ramsey had a passion for writing and took a few classes at Santa Monica College, where Phillips was serving as a student member of the board of trustees, but he soon gravitated towards the working world. He worked most recently for a couple years at McDonald’s in Culver City, previously holding jobs at the Ralphs grocery store on Cloverfield Boulevard and the Vons on Broadway in Santa Monica.
“He had a great work ethic,” Phillips said. “He was trying to find out what he really liked to do. … He had so much living to do.”
Ramsey had lived in Santa Monica since he was 12 years old, visiting regularly even when he moved in with his girlfriend in Los Angeles.
Ramsey was killed after being hit by a car that was heading south on 23rd Street, police have said. He reportedly entered the roadway from a nearby alley. Phillips said she is grateful that two medical professionals who live near the scene of the crash stayed by Ramsey’s side in his last moments of life.
“One of my biggest worries was that he died alone,” Phillips said. “It gave me great comfort to know that he wasn’t.”
Phillips made a makeshift memorial for Ramsey on a nearby sign post. She was upset when flowers and stuffed animals were taken from the site, but she said she was encouraged to see that an anonymous community member had already posted a cross with a notice urging drivers to slow down.
Ramsey said she was planning to attend a City Council meeting to advocate for speed bumps and better lighting in the area near the accident.
“That corner at night is really dangerous,” she said.
Loved ones said Ramsey will be remembered for his kindness and positive spirit. On walks to the market together, Phillips said, Ramsey would stop if he saw a homeless person and donate a dollar.
“If he didn’t have a dollar bill, he would give them a five,” she said. “He never wanted to see anyone who wasn’t happy. He always had a smile on his face. He was a very happy person.
“And he was very sensitive. He had such a caring heart.”
Phillips penned a poem in memory of Ramsey.
“Tyrone, my son, my dear,” she wrote, “your memory will live on forever down here.”