Celebrating the Life of Joyce McLean's Champion Baby

  

Lloyd Ivor Barrington  McLean

 I went to Jamaica on September 6th to show my love and pay my respects to a lifelong friend and brother, Lloyd Mclean, who died one day short of his seventieth birthday on August 25th of 2017. I went with a sad disposition but left feeling inspired and hopeful. Hurricane Irma, roaring just north of us and dropping bucket loads of water periodically on the festivities felt like tears from god as we got together to remember the life of Joyce McLean's champion boy who lived a life of joyful success and painful illness. As I traveled to Kingston for the memorial services with Lloyd's brother Ronald, his two nephews, Alvin and Karim, his daughter Tanya and his beautiful 7-year-old granddaughter, Brianna, I was not sure what to expect from the occasion. Would we lament Lloyd's recent illness or revel in the shadow of Lloyd's greatness one last time?

It was clear from the moment Lloyd's sister Nancy and his daughter, Janet, greeted us at the Norman Manley International Airport, that we were about to participate in a special send-off for Lloyd. Our first stop was to visit Joyce, Lloyd's 90th-year-old mother, who was full of smiles as three generations of McLean family gathered around in her bedroom to show her their love. She laughed and made cute comments as she received kisses from her children, grandchildren, and her great-grandchild. It was first of many special moments we would share during this weekend of celebration.

Lloyd's daughter Janet carrying his ashes

The Mclean family cremated Lloyd on Friday morning, and on Friday night, Nancy held a party that I know Lloyd would wholeheartedly enjoy. It was an old-school Jamaican party with curry goat, stew chicken, red stripe beer, an assortment of liquors, music, and dominoes. The Reggae music was rocking on full blast. The entire neighborhood could hear the rhythms just like the way Coxsone Sound Systems did when Lloyd and I went to listen to music down Fleet Street in the Fifties. The chatter around the dominoes tables was a constant reminder of my early days at Mr. Headley's bicycle shop where Fudge sellers would come to enjoy a good game after work. Not even the passing showers from the hurricane could diminish the feelings of love for Lloyd. People from different parts of Lloyd's life, the neighbors and his children mingled and reminisced about the difference Lloyd was to them. It was great to see footballers like Jumpy Harris, Neville Oxford, and Skill Cole come to share this special moment with their fallen teammate.

Lloyd's brother Ronald delivering the eulogy at the Kingston College Chapel

For those who did not know Lloyd, here is a summary of who he was in words of his brother Ronald:

Lloyd was the oldest of Joyce and Clovis Mclean's four children: Lloyd, Ronald, Nancy, and Alvin. Lloyd was a "Champion Baby," a title he won at a baby show. Joyce kept a picture of Lloyd in her arms with the word CHAMPION written on a banner across his chest. Make no mistake about it, Lloyd was a hero during his young life. Lloyd was the best at almost everything he did. Lloyd made the best slingshots, shot the most birds, made kites that soared the highest, and caught the most fish. Lloyd was also a leader. If someone could not make a slingshot, Lloyd would show them how. He would always try to make the people around him better, never putting them down. Lloyd was also a hard worker. He lived by the words "Honest Labor Bears A Lovely Face" This motto, from his Vaz Preparatory School experience made a real influence on Lloyd. He would refer to these words at different times in his life.

 

Lloyd also took his secondary school, Kingston College, by storm. He excelled in almost every aspect of his high school life. Lloyd sang in the choir and was a member of the table tennis team. He marched in Cadet Corp, ran on the track team, was the wicketkeeper on the second eleven cricket team and was the coveted number 10 on KC's star-studded Manning Cup, Oliver Shield, and Walker Cup Championship teams.

Without a doubt, Lloyd felt most comfortable on the football field. In 1964, under coach George Thompson, Lloyd was the lynchpin in the #10 position. Many members of these championships went on to have storied careers playing for colleges and universities all over the US and professional teams abroad and the Jamaica national team. Lloyd played the way he lived his life, unselfishly, always looking for the open man, spreading the ball around, spreading the love around, inclusion.

Lloyd was named MVP for the '65 team. Throughout all this, Lloyd remained grounded and humble. At 17 he was called up by the Jamaica coach Brazilian Jorge Pena to the Jamaica squad leading up to the 1966 World Cup. Lloyd became the linkman for the Jamaica World Cup team at 18 years old. For some historical perspective, Jamaica had never actually entered the World Cup before. Jamaica beat Cuba and The Netherland Antilles to enter the 2nd round. Needing to win the next round against Mexico and Costa Rica to go to the World Cup finals. The team played well succumbing to Mexico 3:2 in a tight game at the National Stadium. Our home game against Costa Rica ended in a 1:1 draw. Jamaica played well at home but the away games resulted in significant losses, losing to Mexico at the high altitude Azteca stadium.

Alvin Mclean, the youngest of the McLean boys

Lloyd played professionally for The Boston Beacons of the newly formed North American Soccer League. While in Boston, the great Santos of Brazil was on a tour of the US playing different teams in the league. The great Pele and Brazil's world-famous goalie Gilmar were on the team. Lloyd didn't start the game because of politics and possibly racial preferences by the coach, but the knowledgeable fans began to chant "we want Lloyd, we want Lloyd " forcing the coach to put Lloyd in the game. As soon as he entered the game, Lloyd made an impact. Lloyd got the ball, beat two players and got in front of Gilmar, stepping over it with his left foot causing Gilmar to move to his right and Lloyd just pushed it to the other side into the back of the net. The crowd went wild; it was 1:0. Pele came to Lloyd and asked him his name and where he was from, congratulating him on his creative goal. Lloyd left Boston not long after and decided to pursue a BA degree in business management at LIU.

When Lloyd was entering Long Island University, the rules were such that if you played soccer professionally, you could not play for a College team. So Lloyd was not able to play for LIU. This realization set the stage for Lloyd to achieve his Bachelors of Arts degree in Business Management in 1975. Getting his degree was one of Lloyd's greatest accomplishment because he did this while working to take care of his growing family and paying school fees.

Lloyd married Georgia Hamilton before leaving Jamaica for Boston. They had their first child, the beautiful Janet. They had four additional children: Ronald, Tanya, Patrick, and Michael. He became mentally ill around 1975 just about the time he returned to Jamaica. With the mental illness came all the ramifications of that come with mental illness: the stigma, the whispers, the struggles, the suffering both by Lloyd and the people who loved him. Lloydie struggled and suffered from mental illness for more than 40 years.

Clovis McLean taught his children about love. Clovis said that it was easy to love someone when everything is fine and looking good. But when you're down and out, and not doing or saying the right things, when you don't look so good, or maybe don't even smell so good, you'll know who loves you. When Lloyd was in his most unlovable state, and when most people wanted to run away from him, his sister Nancy McLean would always run to him no matter what his condition. Nancy is a symbol of her farther's principle of love. She loved Lloyd with every cell in her body until his last breath.   

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90-year-old Joyce and her daughter Nancy at the Memorial Service.

I left Jamaica inspired by Nancy's commitment to her brother. Her love was evident in every aspect of the memorial service which carried her stamp of impeccable quality and flawless execution. Even Irma's thunderous rain showers could not diminish the outpouring of love for Lloyd at the Kingston College Chapel. I was also moved by how the Kingston College family came together to honor one of their own. KC Old Boys sang and gave tribute to Lloyd in spectacular fashion. Neville Oxford and Dennis Johnson from at KC's 1965 Championship team paid homage to their fallen teammate. And, I felt hopeful about my own life because I saw once again the fine roots from which I came. The world-class Kingston College choir that serenaded us was part of my rich heritage. The sight of the KC Old Boys mingling between the raindrops was a constant reminder of our school motto, "The Brave May Fall But Never Yield." This slogan meant to me that no matter what our status was in life, we would overcome because the "Fortis" culture had molded us and given us role models like Douglas Forrest, Issac Henry, and Althea Young to point the way forward.

 

Lloyd's daughter Tanya and his granddaughter, Ashley, reading a lesson at the Memorial Service.