Tywanza Kibwe Diop Sanders

Tywanza Sanders, 26, was a young, vibrant man with many talents and interests who was willing to give his life for another.

Born in Charleston, “Wanza” was known for his broad, ready smile and positive outlook on life.

Sanders graduated from James Island Charter High School in 2006, where he was a member of the Trojan football team, Future Business Leaders of America and other student organizations. Sanders also filmed home basketball games for the school’s broadcast journalism news team. After high school, he earned a degree in business administration from Allen University, where he was known as a serious student committed to his education. While at Allen, he balanced coursework, part-time jobs and membership in student organizations like the National Association of Black Accountants and the National Black MBA Association.

Upon graduation, Sanders returned to Charleston and, while holding two jobs, began making plans to attend graduate school. In his spare time, he enjoyed writing rap lyrics and poetry and participated in poetry slams. At the time of his death, he was in the process of publishing his own book of poetry titled “Tragedy,” addressing themes of violence, poverty and inequality. Sanders played the keyboard and other instruments and enjoyed skateboarding and acting.

When Sanders wasn’t studying or working, he could often be found at Emanuel AME Church studying the Bible with his tight-knit community of family and friends.

Sanders’ final act was one of selfless heroism. As gunshots rang out at Emanuel Church, he stepped in front of his great aunt, Susie Jackson, giving his life in an attempt to save hers. Fittingly, Sanders’ and Jackson’s lives were celebrated in a joint funeral, which was attended by hundreds of mourners including Gov. Nikki Haley.