Montclair State University revealed the tragic news of Mo Traore passing away via a student communications email on Thursday, June 9.
Traore was a resident of Orange, New Jersey and was expected to graduate during the spring 2022 semester. He was a School of Communication and Media (SCM) student and part of the men’s club basketball team.
The Montclair State’s email and close friends of Traore have not provided any details regarding the cause of this death.
Kandice Espinal, a close relative, offered how she remembers having such a close relationship with Traore.
“[Traore] was the funniest person I’ve ever come across, the most genuine soul,” Espinal said. “He was one of my biggest supporters in anything I did. His energy was like a magnet, anybody was attracted to it and his personality. His smile could light up a whole room and his presence was felt as soon as he walked into one.”
Espinal also shared how she believes Traore would like to be remembered.
“[Traore] would definitely like being remembered [as a] comedian and being the realest,” Espinal said. “He was huge on loyalty. He would love to always be thought of and remembered in every way. He was the king of [New] Jersey, his energy will always be unmatched.”Ashanti Smith, a childhood friend of Traore, believes he will be remembered for the way he treated others around him.
“In middle school, he was always a pleasure to be around and made everyone laugh,” Smith said. “Most importantly he loved his friends and family. He had such a giving soul, he always looked out for everyone no matter what. His death impacted so many other people but his influence will live on because he was just so rare, undeniably irreplaceable.”
Adrian Perry, the head coach of the men’s club basketball team, remembered Traore’s impact on his team’s practices.
“His energy was infectious, practices were always high energy with him around and the guys really elevated their game thanks to his constant support and willingness to take time to help them grow,” Perry said. “We probably would not be the team we are without his drive and commitment to our team’s excellence.”
Zaire Durham, a senior biochemistry major and team manager for the men’s club basketball team, provided his experience of getting to know Traore on the team and as a friend.
“We were so blessed to have [Traore] while we did,” Durham said. “I was one of his closest friends and he was the person who always brought an abundance of intensity and happiness to [Montclair State’s] campus. Never once did [Traore] say he couldn’t do something, if such seemed impossible he made us have the mindset that we can achieve it and we would. He will live forever in our hearts.”
Al Fogler, a member of the executive board of the men’s club basketball team, detailed what it was like having Traore as a part of the organization.
“[Traore] was more than just a player for us,” Fogler said. “He was a brother, a leader and someone who always wanted the best for the person he was standing next to. He gave a thousand percent in anything that he did and wanted the best version of himself while making sure others did the same. He was truly one of [a kind] and there will never be another like him.”
Keith Strudler, the director of SCM, gave his perspective on Traore’s passing.
“I am deeply saddened by the passing of [SCM student Traore],” Strudler said. “Our school brings together a remarkable community of aspiring and talented individuals, and it is a sincere tragedy when we suffer a loss like this one. The SCM community offers our deepest sympathy to [Traore’s] family and friends.”
Traore’s memorial mass took place on Saturday, June 18 at St. Mary’s Church in Newark followed by a memorial gathering at Immaculate Conception High School in Montclair.