JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Determined. Smart. Funny. A shining light.
One by one, family members and friends stepped onto the stage at Celebration Church on Tuesday evening to share their most cherished memories of Tristyn Bailey.
The celebration of life for the beloved 13-year-old middle school student who was obsessed with cheerleading and TikTok followed nine days of grieving after she was found dead on Mother’s Day in a St. Johns County neighborhood.
Timeline: What we know about Tristyn Bailey’s disappearance
In one of the most poignant and funny moments of the celebration, her four older siblings gave an intimate glimpse into the life of their little sister and how they plan to carry her memory with them forever.
They referred to themselves as the “Bailey 7″: sisters Brittney Bailey Russell, Alexis Bailey and Sophia Bailey along with brother Teegan Bailey and parents Stacy and Forrest -- and, of course, Tristyn.
(Click below to watch the full, uncut celebration of life)
“The Bailey seven, as it will be said multiple times, will forever continue, and each of us siblings will always be one of five brothers and sisters,” her oldest sister Brittney said.
The siblings loved their sister, that much was clear on Tuesday.
The four painted a picture of a teenager that was carefree and loving and wouldn’t stop until she reached her goals.
“She couldn’t care less what the world thought of her. She loved herself some Tristyn,” Brittney said.
Alexis said she spent the summer with Tristyn after COVID-19 hit. The two teamed up to take care of an injured kitten, and in the process, Tristyn learned a little bit about independence.
“Once Tristyn was officially in the house, I sat her down and I said, ‘Listen, Tree, I’m not your mom, you’re going to help maintain this house with me.’ Again, there’s a lot of animals there. So we set to work on learning how to do laundry, dishes, vacuum, mop, scoop litter boxes and train my new Great Dane puppy Snitch. Spoiler alert, Tristyn never figured out how to vacuum,” Alexis said. “During that summer, I got to watch Tristyn grow and realized just how much she is capable of for herself.”
Teegan said his youngest sister inspired him with the way she pursued her goals.
“I’m not fluent in cheer terms, but I understand a significant milestone is something called a back tuck,” Teegan said. “The amount of times I would hear her talking about this and the amount of practices she went to to master this, that girl worked for her goals.”
The day before Mother’s Day, Teegan said, he went to dinner with his family, and when he got back home, he hadn’t reached his calorie-burning goal for the day, so he went for a walk. When he finished, he told Tristyn he had reached his fitness goal to which she responded, “Cool, bro.”
“The last thing I got to talk about with my sister was I reached my goals. That takes determination and drive, things that I learned from her as my sister,” he said.
Brittney also shared her future goals to honor her sister.
“My goal for my sister’s memory is for it to remain untarnished. To remember all the good that she put out into the world. Kids will be kids and rumors will spread, but it is our job to stand here and fight against those rumors, and remember what a wonderful, beautiful, smart, charismatic, confident girl that was.”