Teen killed by dump truck remembered as a driven ‘go-getter’

Antawani Wright-Davis's mother and family friend recall their last conversations with the aspiring model and photographer and reflect on his life.

Antawani Wright Davis With His Bike
Antawani Wright-Davis with his bike on Massachusetts Avenue. –Courtesy Rosemarie Davis

An hour before he died, Antawani Wright-Davis came home from a Friday morning shift at Earl’s Kitchen and Bar to see his neighbor, Yarisha Cunningham, struggling to bring groceries into her triple-decker home.

Wright-Davis had known Cunningham since his family moved into their Dorchester Center home 14 years ago. The 19-year-old aspiring model offered to help and brought all of Cunningham’s bags inside in one trip.

“He saw me struggling up the stairs and he stopped his bicycle and just helped me,” Cunningham said on Wednesday evening, sitting in Wright-Davis’s living room with his mother. Behind her, a Jimmy Swaggart sermon played on television.

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She offered Wright-Davis $5 for his help, but he insisted that she keep the money. 

“That’s just who he is,” Cunningham said. “A nice kid. Very generous.”

Wright-Davis’s mother, Rosemarie Davis, said she didn’t realize that her neighbor and friend had seen her son in his final hours. Wright-Davis was killed Friday afternoon when he was hit by a dump truck while riding his bicycle. A vigil was held on Sunday, and the family has set up a GoFundMe for his funeral arrangements.

While Wright-Davis made a point to come home at night to sleep and see his family, he was busy during the day. Along with the shifts at Earl’s, he delivered food for DoorDash and met with friends all over the city to take photos—behind the camera or in front of it. His bicycle was one of his prized possessions, Davis said. He kept it in the living room after spending $300 to repair it for his DoorDash job.

“He’d ride that bike to downtown, South Boston, Dudley, everywhere, like there’s no limits,” Cunningham said.

Wright-Davis was always working on a new project, but he often chose to keep his ideas private until they were complete, his mother said. She’d learn about new projects only when she noticed a change and asked him about it. As a preteen, her son started cleaning in a store that belonged to a friend’s dad to earn some spending money. He didn’t tell his mother until she asked where he was going.

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“One Saturday he said, ‘I’m going up the street, mom, I’m going to work,’ and I said, ‘Going to work where?’ because he was little, like, ‘Who hired you?’” Davis recalled.

In high school he started his first business, selling custom socks to his classmates. He sold the Xbox he bought with his first paycheck to buy a Canon DSLR. He had been interested in photography since he was a child and liked to take pictures with his brother, Davis said.

Photo Taken By Antawani Wright-Davis
A photo Anatawani Wright-Davis took of a friend and posted to his Instagram account. —Courtesy Rosemarie Davis

The Xbox has since been replaced by a new one that still sits in Davis’s living room. It was one of the few things Wright-Davis would stay home to do.

More than anything, Davis remembers her son’s drive. He was always looking for more opportunities, she said, and focused on productivity.

“You raised him right, Rose,” Cunningham told her.

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