Inside a dimly lit Henderson funeral home were 30 chairs, not nearly enough to seat the outpouring of friends and family members who arrived Saturday afternoon to remember Genesis Atkins, a 27-year-old competitive skateboarder who died in a motorcycle crash in downtown Las Vegas last month.
A guest book showed a photo of a smiling young man leaning against his blue Suzuki motorcycle, the same one that police found in shambles the morning of Nov. 29.
Atkins was found dead on U.S. Highway 95 at the Spaghetti Bowl after he was thrown from his motorcycle in a collision with a car. The driver of the car, Yonas Tesfaslasie, 40, was arrested on suspicion of DUI and reckless driving resulting in death and failing to maintain lane/improper lane change. Tesfaslasie was on house arrest as of Friday, according to court records.
Outside Hites Funeral Home, a sea of people in beanies and skater hats waited to enter Atkins’ service.
“Not one person here looks like the person standing next to them” said his brother, Ace Atkins. “He touched the lives of so many different people.”
Lines of 25 people at a time poured in, approaching photos of Genesis Atkins, a purple urn and white and blue flowers. A slideshow played clips of Atkins skating down street rails and landing extreme tricks as if it were second nature to him.
One man, Adrian McCoy, approached Atkins’ mother, Evelini Gibbs, embraced her and then placed his fist to his chest.
“‘Genny’ will always be in here,” he said.
Since he was 10, skateboarding was all Atkins knew. He skateboarded in competitions in Las Vegas, Arizona, California and Florida, according to his family. Atkins even dreamed of starting his own skateboarding company.
“He was extremely special and just so talented,” childhood skateboarding friend Frankie Decker said. “Everyone knew it.”
Skateboarding friend Chris Dewitt added, “I wanted to see him go pro. He was destined.”
Aside from skateboarding, Dewitt said, Atkins cared deeply for the people around him. In July, Atkins and Dewitt sat together outside a hotel and talked for hours about life and skating. A man who Dewitt said he had bad blood with approached them and held Dewitt at gunpoint.
Atkins, according to Dewitt, responded: “If you’re gonna do that, you’re gonna have to shoot both of us.”
“If Genesis wasn’t sitting there with me, that guy probably would’ve shot me,” Dewitt said. “I can’t get over it. I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.”
As teens, Decker said, he and Atkins had a Christmas Day tradition of going to spots that weren’t normally “skateable.” After spending time with family that morning, they hopped in a car and headed to street skate at a post office and other businesses that weren’t open.
“My childhood was significantly better and more fun because he was in it,” Decker said with tears streaming down his cheeks. “I’m lucky to have grown up with him.”