The Aragon community experienced a terrible loss on Saturday, May 20 when junior Ke Vinh Tran passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.
Among Aragon students and faculty, Ke Vinh will be remembered as a caring friend, dedicated student and lover of basketball and breakdancing.
Those around Ke Vinh never faced a dull moment. “He was always the first one to get a conversation going and he was always able to keep that flow,” says junior Josh Prado. “It was never boring when he was around.”
Junior Brendan Todd adds, “He always joked around, always had something to talk about.”
“He always put a smile on my face,” says junior Nanami Yasuhara.
Yasuhara recalls one of her favorite memories with Ke Vinh: “We went to watch Beauty and the Beast together. It was really spontaneous, so we didn’t plan it. We were just hanging out and we went to get boba and then he [said], ‘What do you want to do?’ and we didn’t know what to do … He was like, ‘Let’s go watch Beauty and the Beast.’ So we just watched a movie.”
Ke Vinh had a big heart and was kind to all. His mother, Anh Nguyen, remembers a time when he was only five or six years old, yet already displayed this strong sense of character.
“One time we went to Chinatown. We saw an old lady selling Chinese red envelopes for New Years. She asked a lot of people walking past to buy them but no one did,” Nguyen remembers. “Ke Vinh noticed this and he stopped walking. He looked at me and asked if I could buy some. He felt bad that she couldn’t sell [the envelopes].”
Ke Vinh and his mother had a close relationship. “I raised him as a single mom since he was five years old. We had been through a lot together. Some tough times and some really good times,” says Nguyen.
As a student, Ke Vinh was ambitious and motivated to work hard in school.
“He [was] very goal-oriented … [Some of his goals were to] get all A’s, go to a good college, take more APs next year,” Todd says.
“His first priority during the school year was always his homework. Before he would go play basketball he always made sure he had his homework done,” explains Nguyen. “He worked really hard to get straight A’s. He also did this on his own, I didn’t have to push him to get his homework done.”
Ke Vinh also developed many hobbies outside of school, which included basketball and breakdancing.
Junior Joseph Cho says, “Some of my favorite memories with him were playing basketball and hanging out at his house. We played basketball pretty much every day in the summer.”
“Any time he found someone better than him he would practice and practice until he improved to a competitive level with them,” recalls Nguyen.
Referring to breakdancing, she describes, “He would watch YouTube to learn new moves and practice them a lot at home until he could do it.”
Whether it was school, basketball, or dancing, Ke Vinh always looked for ways to improve. Nguyen reflects, “He always wanted to get better and improve himself. The more something challenged him, the harder he worked. I am so proud of him.”
Additionally, Ke Vinh pushed his friends to pursue their hobbies. During Ke Vinh’s memorial service on May 27, Prado delivered a speech in his remembrance.
Prado said, “It was with him, that I found out my true passion for filmmaking. He was one of the first to support me and he [was] always there to help. I never thanked him for it, but if [I had] not known him, I would not be the person I am today.”
For the memorial service, Ke Vinh’s friends made a video slideshow with pictures of Ke Vinh and created posters that included messages from friends.
“There were a lot of people in attendance that day. It was great seeing all these people to support Ke Vinh’s family … This includes several teachers and several school administrators,” describes Prado.
On May 31, a GoFundMe page was created by friends to help Ke Vinh’s family pay for expenses following his passing. As of June 20, the page has raised $575.
Despite all he achieved, Ke Vinh will most be remembered for the way he treated others.
“Ke Vinh was a really honest and kind person. He had a really big heart,” concludes Nguyen. “It didn’t matter if you just met him or knew him for years. He treated you the same.”
*Students who are identified in the article are all in the class of 2018. Thus, they are rising seniors.