Jayson S. Wilson and Peter Wilson were the best of friends. Classmates described them as "real close."
The duo didn't look alike - Jayson was 5 foot 4, while Peter was about 5 foot 11. Peter was black and Jayson was white. But whenever Jayson introduced Peter, it was, "This is my brother."Both shared the same last name, although they weren't related. Both lived in the same house at 676 N. 14th West with Jayson's family. Both loved basketball and both played on South High School's last basketball team before the school was closed.
Friends said the two were inseparable. "If you saw Jayson, there was Pete," said schoolmate Derrick Davis.
Even in death, the two were together.
Both died early Sunday, unable to open their seat belts as the vehicle they were riding in went into a canal and sank.
Students at West High School knew Jayson as "the rat."
It wasn't a derogatory nickname but one that his peers had playfully given the West High junior because of his small stature and his love for basketball.
"He was a gym rat," explained his West High basketball coach, Robert Lyman. "He spent all of his time in the gym. You couldn't keep him out."
Jayson was the smallest member of the West High varsity team. At 5 foot 4, he "shouldn't have been on the team," but his attitude and dedication made up for his height, Lyman said.
"He was our sixth man. He got his shot and came through just great. He got our hustler award this year," the coach said. "Because he was a small guy, he had to work hard and the kids respected that."
Peter was also a good basketball player. But because he was a "fifth-year senior," he was declared ineligible to play early in the season because of previous schooling he had in California. He often practiced with team members, but was relinquished to the sidelines during the games to cheer for his buddies.
"I called him Myrtle the Turtle because he couldn't jump," said Davis.
The coach, however, said Peter had "great talent" and was a "very good pick-up game player."
Rumors of the students' deaths ran rampant Monday. Students at West High spent most of Monday wondering what could have happened.
"Everybody at school knew the circumstances, but nobody really wanted to accept it," Lyman said. The suspicions were confirmed late Monday just before school was dismissed, but most didn't hear the bad news until later.
"It's tough when you lose a friend. Especially when it's someone you do something with every day," said Davis, who always played basketball with the duo.
"It's like, how can that happen at my school, with my friends?"
Davis, who has been a friend of Jayson's since the third grade, said he saw Jayson hours before the tragic accident when Jayson stopped by his house asking to borrow some cassette music tapes for that night.
"He said he was going to go do something and he asked me if I wanted to go." When Davis declined, Jayson said, "I'll just catch you tomorrow then."
"Usually Jayson comes through with what he's going to do. He never did call back," Davis said.
"He's got a lot of heart. . . . If you say something about Jayson, say he had a lot of heart."