Tyre Nichols was more than a victim of five police officers in Memphis.
Tyre was a 29-year-old father who was on his way home from a city park where he was taking pictures of the sunset when police pulled him over, and brutally attacked him.
Taking sunset pictures at the park was common for Tyre on weekends.
“Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways I cannot write down for people,” he wrote on his website. He preferred landscapes and loved the glow of sunsets most, his family has said.
You can take a look at his photography website, T Nichols Photography, and see for yourself, where Tyre quotes on his home page, “A good photographer must love life more than photography itself.”
He included a gallery of what he considered his masterpieces: bridges and railroad tracks rendered in black and white, the neon lights of Beale Street at night. He took pictures of pink flowers, sunsets over the Mississippi River, fields of grass, statues of Elvis.
“Nobody’s perfect, nobody. But he was damn near,” his mother, RowVaughn Wells, claimed.
Nichols worked second shift at FedEx with his stepfather. Every day, they’d come home together on their break at 7 p.m., and his mother would have a meal waiting for them.
He was the baby of their family, born 12 years after his closest siblings. He had a 4-year-old son and worked hard to better himself as a father, his family said. He was an avid skateboarder from Sacramento, California, and came to Memphis just before the coronavirus pandemic and got stuck. But he was fine with it because he was with his mother, and they were incredibly close, Wells said. He had her name tattooed on his arm.
Growing up in Sacramento, Nichols spent much of his time at a skate park on the outskirts of the city. It could be a rough place sometimes for younger kids. But when Niko Chapman was 10 years old, his parents would let him walk to the park alone as long as they knew Nichols was there.
“You remember people that are really kind to you, and Tyre was just a really kind person,” Chapman said. “He just always made me feel really welcome.”
Tyre became a regular at Chapman’s father’s church youth group that would often meet at the skate park.
“What drew me to Tyre was just — he’s real,” Curtis Chapman said. “He would talk about being a dad and wanting to be a good dad and seeking advice.”