EVERETT — The gesture was as heartfelt as it was natural.
When Jordan Davis-Miller was named king of the Mariner High School Homecoming Court last Friday, the handsome senior soaked in the admiration of his fellow students for a few minutes.
Then, as the assembly ended and the gym emptied, he took off his cape and crown.
Something did not seem quite right.
Davis-Miller strolled over to Koby Inthavong, a fellow senior and special-needs student who’d also been nominated to the homecoming court. Koby can neither walk nor talk on his own, and relies on his electric wheelchair and computer communication device to get around and express himself.
Davis-Miller gave him the crown. It was an act without fanfare; only sincerity.
He simply felt Koby was more deserving.
He later told classmates the most important things in life are not worn or given to you, but are based on how you affect others.
“I’m so glad Mariner High School has leaders and strong individuals, such as Koby,” Davis-Miller said. “He inspires me to be better to others and he improves my character. All of these are qualities that a king beholds. With that, I’m very proud to be chosen as homecoming king at Mariner, but I’m even more proud to pass the crown on to Koby.”
Inthavong was elated.
“Happy” is the word he typed with one finger into his communication device. He calls the device “Jarvis,” a loyal techno-savvy character from the Marvel Iron Man comic series.
He attended his first football game that Friday, bundling up on a cold and rainy evening. He got his hair cut, chose a nice suit and showed up early to the homecoming dance Saturday, glad to see classmates from his life skills class among the revelers. He joined his peers on the crowded dance floor.
All of which delighted his mother, Saroeun Chhoth-Lundquist, who attended Friday’s assembly.
“When I was told he was nominated, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” she said. “As a parent, when you have a child with different needs, just to see the other kids accept him just made my heart very happy.”
She was standing near Koby and the other nominees after the ceremony. When she turned around, she saw Davis-Miller talking with her son and presenting him the crown. She took pictures through misty eyes.
It was another milestone, one to be cherished, on a sometimes bumpy road.
For more than half his life, Inthavong was a lot like most kids. When he was 10, he suffered a severe asthma attack, which deprived oxygen to his brain. The damage was profound. He spent four months at Seattle Children’s Hospital.
For more than a year, he could not acknowledge his parents. They only saw his blank stare.
Today, he continues to make progress, using his keyboard-aided voice and maneuvering his wheelchair around the campus. His family, teachers and school aide Aimee Young guide him toward greater independence. He’s looking forward to wearing a cap and gown at graduation ceremonies in June, spending three more years in a transition program for special-needs students, and finding a job.
What strikes Davis-Miller most about his classmate is his gentle, cheerful nature.
“Obviously, Koby has a great smile,” he said, eliciting a grin on cue from his fellow student. “He doesn’t have the easiest life. And he still smiles like everything in the world is going to be great.”
Davis-Miller works hard to contribute to his school. He’s involved in student government, drama, the Black Student Union and the student store. He played the Tin Man in “The Wiz.” He’s the upbeat voice for morning announcements and is a big part of the school’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. assembly.
He has a disc jockey business he calls JZ Entertainment, a combination of the initial of his first name and that of his friend Zerabruk Abraham. He wants to spend his senior trip helping in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and Houston, and he has been offered a scholarship next fall to the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts.
Mariner Assistant Principal Rebecca Porter wasn’t surprised that Davis-Miller was named homecoming king. The choice was based on several factors, including academic success, being a role model and sharing school pride.
She acknowledged she gets a little choked up when she thinks about the passing of the crown.
“Yeah,” he explained to Porter, “he’s the king.”
Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; firstname.lastname@example.org.