His name was Rashid Maxwell Jr., but everyone called him “Ugg.”
When Marquita Leazer took her newborn to Rosemont/Dukeland, a public housing development in West Baltimore, her sister-in-law Jade Maxwell couldn’t help herself. Rashid was a little “funny-looking” as a baby, Maxwell said, with crinkles that gave him the complexion of an old man.
So she called him “Ugg,” and it stuck as Rashid grew into a teenager.
“Y’all talking about how I was ugly then, but look at me now,” he would say, according to Maxwell. “I’m pretty ugly-cute.”
She was used to his corny jokes that brightened her day. She misses them now.
Rashid Maxwell Jr. died Monday afternoon, after Baltimore police found the 15-year-old suffering from multiple life-threatening gunshot wounds near Gilmor Elementary School. While homicides overall are down in Baltimore, shootings involving high school teens near schools have become more frequent.
Rashid died a few weeks before his 16th birthday on Oct. 18. His aunt said he wasn’t much of a birthday enthusiast and didn’t have any particular wish lists. He would have probably asked for money, Jade Maxwell said, so that he could treat himself with a haircut, a new pair of Nike shoes or clothes from Under Armour, his favorite brand. He liked to dress nice, Maxwell said, sporting black or dark blue. He took after his father and namesake in that respect, Rashid Maxwell, she said.
Rashid at times lived with his father, Jade’s brother, and at times with his mother, Jade said. But he also went over to his aunt’s house a lot and spent the summertime at her place.
Her nephew was also “greedy,” Jade Maxwell said. If he wanted something, he would get it, and he usually wanted snacks.
She remembers him bursting into her room and jumping on her bed while she was still in it. “I know you got some snacks,” he kept repeating. “I know you got some snacks.”
He could be joyous and a bit of a menace, as teenagers are, Maxwell said. He got on his cousin’s nerves, too, 17-year-old Akira Peay said.
“But that was my baby,” she said — her baby cousin, her baby brother, her best friend. Where you would see one, you would see the other.
Rashid had a knack for fixing things. Peay isn’t sure how he learned to do it, but he could get anything working again, from a video game console to a moped. He had been really into bikes lately.
Sometimes, people who knew his skills gave him the pieces he was looking for. Other times, he noticed a beaten-down moped that had been abandoned or when he visited the junkyard. Peay would sit on the back of his moped and they would ride around the neighborhood, though not too far away and not for too long because she was scared, his cousin said.
There are things he wasn’t good at it, too. He could not do a wheelie, as much as he tried. He also could not dance, Peay said.
The two of them loved scrolling on TikTok, looking for a new dance to master. They filmed themselves but never posted it.
“He had no rhythm,” Peay said. She told him, too, many times, and he could take the joke.
Rashid was a jokester, Maxwell said, and playful. It made it really hard to stay mad at him. Such as when he ate all of her ice cream, when she told him to only have a scoop.
“See, I had a spoon, and then I had a bowl, and then it got so good, next thing I know ... it was gone,” he would tell her. And then he “put his goofy little face on.”
The family isn’t taking his death well, and his parents weren’t ready to talk to a reporter this week, Maxwell said.
She recalls how he was unsure about what he wanted to do with his life: He had aspired to be a rapper, though his rapping was no good. He had also wanted to be a football player — he played when he was younger — or maybe join the Army. He still had his whole life ahead of him, Maxwell said.
The city is not doing enough to prevent children and teenagers from dying of gun violence, Maxwell said. It seems like every day she sees on the news or social media that a family lost a child.
“They didn’t get a chance to live a goddamn life,” she said.
Rashid followed her around, Maxwell said. He was not her kid, she said, but he was her boy.
She still has some of his clothes, Maxwell said, and the photos, the videos. She will carry him with her. No one will forget about Rashid.