Sayaun A. Dent, affectionately known as “Say” was born September 18, 1999 in Elizabethtown, NC, to Crystal M. Rogers and Pure M. Dent. He adored his little brothers, Channing and Messiah. Say was loved by his parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and other family as well as his coaches, teammates and friends. The unbreakable bond he shared with his mother was palpable. He didn’t care who knew his mother was his best friend. On the day of April 8, 2023, Sayaun was en route to a “Stop the Violence” charity basketball tournament. A distracted driver ran a stop sign, tragically ending his earthly life.

Sayaun attended Bladen County schools and maintained a solid balance between academics and athletics. Graduation year 2017, The North Carolina High School Athletic Association and the North Carolina Coaches Association awarded Sayaun as an Academic All-Star, recognizing him for scholastic excellence. Additionally, he received the prestigious invitation to play in the elite North Carolina East-West All-Star basketball game. After graduation and many recruiting discussions, Sayaun accepted an offer to attend Lander University and play for the Lander Bearcats Basketball team. In 2019, Sayaun transferred to Sandhills Community College where he received an associates degree and led the 2020 Flyers Basketball team to a National Championship. Sayaun was the championship MVP and later selected as 2020 NJACC National Player of the Year. With great intent, Sayaun transferred to UNC-P in pursuit of his love for basketball and completion of his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. The 2019-2020 Covid pandemic halted all of college sports and despite Sayauns’ extraordinary basketball achievements and talent, he made a decision to focus solely on academics, with plans for a pre-med major. He was on track to graduate from UNC-Pembroke December 2023.

Those that knew Sayaun, knew he was more than basketball.  He was a rare and exceptional human. A true humanitarian that often placed the needs and wants of others above his own.  In the words of Tim McGraw, “he held doors, said please, said thank you; didn’t steal, didn’t cheat, no reasons to lie”. Sayaun climbed mountains but always stayed humble and kind.  His coaches, trainers, friends, classmates all share similar sentiments.  Sayaun was serene with an infectious smile.  He was selfless, well-mannered and respected; both intellectual and intelligent, a leader with loyalty, benevolence and empathy. Sayaun packed an immeasurable amount of excellence and goodness into 23 years. The legacy he left reminds us that it’s not about the quantity of life, it’s about the quality.

Say loved to travel. His flight anxiety and severe ear popping never stopped him from catching flights. He loved music which would either relax him or “turn him up”. His favorite genre was rap. He had an eye for fashion and loved to shop. Sayaun looked attractive in anything he wore. He was a gentleman and brought real swagger “when he walked through”! His long wispy eyelashes, innocent eyes, and beautiful smile are unforgettable.  His broad shoulders, massive hands, and lean muscular build was appealing. He often blushed at the nick-name “Pretty Boy Say” but he was undeniably handsome and effortlessly charismatic.  Sayaun, beautifully designed from the inside out.