Updated: Jun 1
By RJ's sister, Jessica
Robert (RJ) Small
My brother, RJ, was born on March 26, 1990 - 2 months before my 6th birthday and from day one, I was completely in love. He was the sweetest, cutest little boy from the start. He came into the world quickly and never stopped moving. He was always on the go - wanting to be outside running around with the bigger kids. He fell in love with basketball when he was young and would play all night long if my parents would have let him. He could make anyone laugh and loved cracking jokes and telling funny stories.
On March 2, 2011, my beautiful, perfect niece was born and my brother changed into the best dad overnight! The look of pride on his face when he held his baby girl is a look that will stay with me forever. She absolutely adored her dad and he adored her.
Everyone loved RJ but I don't think he ever truly loved himself. He just didn't see what everyone else saw. My brother started to face several obstacles in life - both personally and professionally and he was having a hard time pushing through. I'll never know how it got wrapped up in heroin but it took him down hard and fast before any of us saw it coming. Looking back, there were so many red flags that we missed - or were just uneducated about it.
Unfortunately, we got the dreaded call that he had overdosed on October 3, 2015, and life hasn't been the same since that day. Our family has been changed forever and not a day goes by where we don't think about him and miss him.
I try, everyday, to educate myself on mental illness and addiction to help spread the word to those who aren't familiar or turn a blind eye to this epidemic. I hope and pray that the number will start to go down!