Keedron Bryant’s message continues to spread

Jacksonville 12-year-old had viral hit ‘I Just Want to Live'; on Sunday, he sang anthem at NASCAR race

Jacksonville 12-year-old Keedron Bryant. (FOX Sports, FOX Sports)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Keedron Bryant is everywhere these days.

The Jacksonville 12-year-old has been on talk shows and done media interviews across the country. He’s been cited by former President Barack Obama and appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Good Morning America.”

LeBron James is one of many A-list celebrities who has shared his praise of Bryant, whose song “I Just Want to Live,” has been impossible to miss since he released it on Instagram on May 26. On Sunday, Bryant, who is going into eighth grade at Oakleaf Junior High School, enjoyed another major milestone.

He sang the national anthem for NASCAR’s race in Atlanta and drew positive reviews from across social media for his performance.

“It was a very exciting experience,” Bryant said on Monday. “I also thank God for that [ability]. This is what God has called me to do.”

Keedron’s voice is powerful, but his message is what has resonated with listeners. As of Monday afternoon, his “I Just Want to Live” had been played 3.1 million times on Instagram alone. Obama even posted Keedron’s video on his Facebook page and mentioned him by name.

Keedron’s song was inspired by the final moments of George Floyd’s life. Floyd was killed on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer restrained him by pinning him to the ground with his knee in Floyd’s neck.

The incident was filmed and has since sparked a massive movement across the country for significant change in racial relations. Floyd called out for his mother moments before going unconscious.

Keedron’s mother, Johnnetta Bryant, wrote the lyrics to the song in the day following Floyd’s death. Keedron sang the song acapella at his house and it went viral instantly.

“It’s been a cry out that we’ve been crying for a long time,” Johnnetta said. “It is heartwarming to see that it’s reaching and the impact that it’s having on so many.”

Keedron didn’t hesitate when asked what he hopes that his song and message can accomplish.

“That we can all be equal,” he said. “Black people can go out and enjoy life. I hope I’ll make an impact in the world, change the world. All of us together.”

The lyrics to Keedron and his mother’s song are below.

“I Just Want to Live”

"I'm a young black man

Doing all that I can,

To stand

Oh but when I look around

And I see what's being done to my kind

Every day

I'm being hunted as prey

"My people don't want no trouble, we've had enough struggle

I just want to live

God protect me

I just want to live I just want to live.”

About the Author:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.