Justin was a talented visionary. He was ebullient from birth and filled with spontaneous creativity. He loved the visual and performing arts, designing buildings, creating enthusiasm, and leading and orchestrating.
He also loved to swim, starting when he was two years old. When Justin was 8, he bravely taught himself how to dive off the block at his first swim meet—only minutes before his race. The judge said, “He is not going to win! “But Justin dived right in and swam like crazy… and won first place too!! Later, he even qualified and participated in the Junior Olympics.
As a vibrant 16-year-old 11th-grade student at Harvard-Westlake School, Justin was a Student Ambassador, a member of the Swim Team, a Leader in the Black Leadership Awareness and Culture Club, a Section Leader in Chamber Singers, and a member of the Jazz Singers. He also performed in various theatrical and television productions, had his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card, and started the first Architecture Club. In 2012 he traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, helping to rebuild homes for Habitat for Humanity.
Justin’s parents, Darrell Carr, and Susan Toler Carr were the light of his life. Justin loved when Susan baked triple chocolate mint brownies for him and his friends, they laughed until they cried, knew all the words to the ‘Wicked’ soundtrack and Smokey Robinson’s ‘My Girl,’ danced together to Beyonce until their hips hurt, and reflected on each other’s purpose in the world: each one, teach one. Darrell taught Justin to work with his hands and build something that lasts generations. He instilled in Justin racial pride and the importance of preparation. Leading by example, Darrell and Susan prioritized honesty, resiliency, and purpose. The lessons Justin learned from his parents were a source of inspiration. He couldn’t help but go out in the community and teach others.
He smiled often and wanted to make sure others enjoy life too. He was kind and a steadfast supporter of the underdog, regardless of the social consequences. Justin stood up for what was right and helped his friends. He was the connector—full of compassion and empathy, understanding people, and lived by a code of values unseen in others his age. Those values would become his moral code.
In January 2013, Justin had an assignment to describe his best character traits. He was most proud to be skillful, helpful, observant, creative, and sensitive. On February 22, 2013, Justin, seemingly healthy, attended his classes and helped construct a stage for an upcoming theatre production. Before his routine swimming practice, he had just concluded a happy telephone call with his mother. After completing a few laps, Justin died instantly. An undiagnosed heart condition called idiopathic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy caused his Sudden Cardiac Arrest.
Justin’s parents have taken the soul of their son and turned it into the blocks from which stairs descend to an unlimited future based upon creativity. One child at a time can leave behind a life of isolation and aloneness and venture into the vast world of self-expression. We depend on artists to make sense of the world when the ordinary rules do not apply when we need to believe in peace and kindness and giving and love, rather than war and sorrow and randomness and fear.
Please click here to read Justin’s celebration of life program and learn more about Justin’s life achievements.