My mom always says that "sometimes the brightest stars burn out the fastest." God bless Khalifah, his older brother Idris, and his family.
It would've been easy for Khalifah Muhammad, a freshman who measured just a shade over five feet, to get lost in the crowd at Morehouse College.
But the 18-year-old, killed in a car accident Wednesday along with an older brother not far from their Silver Spring, Md. home, stood tall during his brief time on campus, rubbing shoulders with Spike Lee and starting a club for ambitious peers, the 5th Floor.
His professors took note, naming the English major Morehouse's Freshman of the Year. “In reflecting on [Khalifah's] brief life, I can only think about his potential,” said Paul Wiebe, chair of the school's English Department.
After graduating from Morehouse, Khalifah hoped to attend New York University Film School, fulfilling a lifelong dream to make movies. He was already a prolific filmmaker, shooting digital shorts that can be viewed on his YouTube account.
"I really wanted him to explore his passion," his mother said. "It was something he was very good at."
Khalifah was also passionate about making a difference, especially after visiting quake-ravaged Haiti on a relief mission earlier this year.
"It was his first time out of the country, and he's by himself, going to Haiti," said his brother Nasser Muhammad, 24. "It changed him. He got to see people less fortunate than him. He wanted to go back and document what's happening there."
Khalifah had been home in Maryland since May, spending most of his time with brother Idris, 18 months his senior. They were driving home from dinner with two friends when Idris swerved to avoid something in the road, his mother said. He apparently overcompensated while trying to swerve back into his lane, sending the car into a telephone pole, one of the two female passengers in the backseat told Nisa Muhammad. Both girls sustained minor injuries; Montgomery County police are investigating.
"They did everything together," Nasser Muhammad said of his two younger brothers. They avoided trouble, he said, though as teammates on a youth basketball team they ran afoul of their coach "because they'd only pass the ball to each other."
A Morehouse spokeswoman said a memorial service will likely be held in August, when students return to campus. The two brothers will be buried Monday in Maryland.