By: Theresa Mancuso

If you live in Utica by now you have heard the tragic news that 29-year-old Henry Martinez was inexplicably gunned down in a random act of violence on June 29, 2017. Born and raised in Utica, NY the news of his passing has left many saddened and shocked.

According to an article written by Dan Scanlan, of The Florida Times, “Henry Ernesto Martinez, a 29-year-old father who recently moved to Jacksonville with his girlfriend and 1-year-old son, then died outside his doorstep just after midnight from multiple gunshot wounds. The array of bullets spread across the front of his home at the Windy Pines complex on 103rd St., just above his child’s push toy. Sadly this egregious act of violence is under investigation but has yet to be resolved.”

As the story made the news, and the saddened reaction of our community began pouring in, this writer began thinking, who was Henry Martinez to those who loved him?

According to his cousin Yashira Velazquez, if she had to describe him in one word it would be “happy.” “Henry was the type of kid that was always doing something to make you laugh. We were very close as children and some of my favorite childhood memories were in my Aunt Mary’s home,” said Velazquez.

She recalled playing with Henry and his siblings; of which he was the eldest of seven and said they always had fun. She said, “We grew up in the projects of Utica but that didn’t matter because we had each other.  I don’t ever recall seeing him angry or ever fight with anyone. He was kind, humble and peaceable. Family gatherings were the best, and our parents made sure that if one kid got a gift we all did. Yet, even better, our childhood gave us that is so often missing today, and that is the importance of family and tradition. I believe like myself, Henry understood that and showed it by helping to take care of his mother when she was sick.”

Yashira went on to say that as they grew up and began their own lives, their lives grew apart but that did not change the fact that every time they did see each other Henry would go out of his way to get to her. She said, “He would always acknowledge me; it was as if we had never grown apart. I will always love him.”

Known as Ya’Boy H, to the music world, Henry was an up and coming artist in the rap world. Henry was respected by many. His friend GSwiss said, “This was a man with aspirations. He was talented and he had a great amount of respect and love from his peers.” He advised,“If you wanna know who H was… watch his videos. It is my hope that those who knew him don’t forget his music ‘cause that is who he was at his core and he was putting the work into making a better life for his son.  Hometown, Wassup, and In the Air to name a few, tell you his story…I will never forget him.”

His friend Bigg Ceez said, “H, was my “Boy”. This should have never happened. It is just wrong.  He was the kind of guy that would give the shirt off his back if he thought you needed it and he never expected anything in return.  A lot of people don’t realize but H had been traveling back and forth to Florida prior to the move because his mother was sick and she needed help, but that is who he was. Family and friends were the most important thing to him.  We shared a love for music and worked together throughout the years. When his son was born he was so proud. He always wanted a child and he loved and appreciated every moment he had with him. He was a great father.”

After listening to his loved ones, I decided to take G’s advice and listened to some of his music. This was how I would truly get to know this man who so many loved.  Like Tupac, H dedicated songs to both his unborn child and his mother using the same titles, “Dear Mama” and “To My Unborn Child.” These are messages that can be forever echoed for those closest to him.

To my Unborn Child By: Ya Boy H.

This is for my unborn child I hope you listen, Just tryin’ to put you on to what you’re missin’ A lot of (stuff) is hectic. And (stuff) gets wild. Can’t wait for the day I see your smile…

This is for my unborn child I hope you listen, Just tryin’ to put you on to what you’re missin’ A lot of (stuff) is hectic. And (stuff) gets wild. Can’t wait for the day I see your smile…

Rest in Peace, H. Many will miss you but we will never forget you.

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