Travis Shaw

November 8, 1988 – February 27, 2022

Travis Shaw was born on November 8, 1988, and passed away on February 27, 2022, at the age of 33. Upon searching for any information about Travis, I was met with dead end after dead end. The two immediate articles that generate from a quick search are tear jerking, and detail how Travis was yet another individual who passed away while incarcerated. This memorial serves as a narrative that goes beyond the circumstances surrounding Travis’s death and instead, centers on his thirty-three years of life. Everyone is someone, to someone. Travis was someone’s son. He was someone’s brother. He was someone’s father. Travis was someone’s friend. 

Something that sat with me was the feeling of failure: failure to find information, failure to find contacts, failure to find the people who Travis touched. Time and time again, I hit dead ends. I found no one. I constantly thought to myself, “Where are they?” “Where is his family?” “Where are his friends?” “Where is anyone who Travis impacted?” After sharing these unfortunate obstacles, a professor shared something that weighed on my heart—Travis Shaw was somebody’s someone. And now, Travis is somebody to me. I will not be able to forget his name or the circumstances surrounding his death. Although I never got the opportunity to know him or anyone in his life, his life means something to me. This being said, I have decided to write this piece about the unknown and the different possibilities of who Travis Shaw may have been during his thirty-three years of life. 

The most substantial piece of information I was able to find was Travis’s last known home address. Travis resided in Baton Rouge, LA, off of Government Street, which is known for its spunky vibes and up-and-coming residents. Maybe he enjoyed the local restaurants in the neighborhood, or even spent time playing pool at local pubs. I wonder what he did with his free time and what his favorite meal was. Did he enjoy all types of music or was he a die-hard fan of one genre? 

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University

The area is also filled with many parks and recreational facilities that Travis could have spent time at, playing outdoor sports with his friends and family. The most obvious question I would have had for any individual living in Baton Rouge is whether or not Travis was an LSU fan?! Could we have bonded over our shared love for this home-state’s football team? Talked about the beauty of the University Lakes?

While thinking of whether or not Travis was an LSU fan, another question came to mind—was he from Baton Rouge? Maybe he moved there from a distant state or maybe he had lived there his whole life. If he grew up in Baton Rouge, I wonder if he was on any sports teams or what high school he went to. I wonder whether his parents are native to Baton Rouge or if they may have moved to the city after Travis was born. If he did not grow up in Baton Rouge, I wonder what made him move to the city. Did he move for work? Move for a person? To be closer to family or friends?

I also wonder what Travis’ family was like. How many siblings did he have, or was he an only child? Did he have children of his own? Nieces, nephews, or cousins? Was he close with his family or had they lost touch? Age thirty-three seems to me like it is still the beginning of a person’s adult life. Maybe Travis was about to get married or have kids. Maybe he was just getting started in his career. Speaking of career, I wonder what Travis did for work. At thirty-three, the work opportunities could have been endless. He had time to mess up and start over. He had time to make life’s mistakes and learn lessons. He had time to be anyone he wanted to be, and to do anything he wanted to do in life.

I think the people who knew Travis could have answered so many of these questions, but there is something comforting in the unknown as well. The unknown makes it feel like Travis could have been so many people: my brother, my best friend, my uncle, a co-worker, or even a stranger you meet in passing. He could have been so many people, but to me Travis simply is someone who deserves to be remembered for his life. He deserves to have his peaks in life spoken of. Travis Shaw is not just another individual who died in a tragic way. He was a man who loved, and was loved by others. He was a man who smiled and laughed. Travis Shaw is someone who lived. 

Author: Sarah Helmstetter