Donald James McKinley, affectionately known as “DJ”, was born June 17, 1994 in Joliet, Illinois to Donald McKinley and Devorah Ward. DJ was one of five children.
DJ was the life of the party and was known as the jokester of the family. DJ was outgoing, adventurous, and a joy to be around. He never met a stranger and made friends wherever he went. DJ loved to travel and spent lots of time in Los Angeles and Miami, where he frequented the beach. DJ spent a lot of time with his family, especially his cousins Michael, Myles, Terrance, and Kion. He also loved playing NBA2K with his brother Trevin and his best friend’s Deon and DeAndre. He also loved to hang out at his Aunt Donna’s house. His niece, Maliyah, was the light of his life and he always put her first.
DJ was a 2013 graduate of Urbana High School and an alumnus of both UMS and King. Many staff members remember him as a great basketball player, funny, and charming, while others remember him walking the halls at UHS and choosing his own path while not following the crowd. DJ was a student athlete and basketball was his first love. He played the point guard position for the Urbana Tigers all four years of high school and dreamed of playing college basketball. He and his best friend Jay played basketball together often.
After graduation, DJ briefly attended Parkland College where he majored in Kinesiology. DJ loved kids and worked at both The Pavilion Foundation and the Cunningham Children’s Home as a Teacher’s Assistant. In 2020, DJ moved to Los Angeles, California in pursuit of a better life. His goal was to take care of his family.
DJ was a devoted son, grandson, nephew, brother, cousin, and friend. DJ accepted Christ at an early age and every morning, he thanked God for waking him up.
DJ was preceded in death by his infant daughter Ariah Jade McKinley.
He leaves to cherish his memories his father, Donald McKinley of Urbana, IL., mother Devorah Ward of Jackson MS; his only brother Trevin Ward of Los Angeles, CA; sisters Camiya Spruell of Jackson, MS, Skylar McKinley of Urbana, IL, and Rayonia McKinley of Champaign, IL; paternal grandparents Henry and Donna Mckinley of Urbana, IL.; maternal grandparent Patricia Ward of Calumet City, IL., his four nieces, three nephews; and a host of aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. We are heartbroken by DJ’s untimely departure from this Earth, but we will forever celebrate the life that brought us so much joy.
Services will commence at 12PM, Friday, March 5, 2021 at Leek & Sons Funeral Home, 1215 West Bradley Ave., Urbana, IL. Visitation will begin at 11AM until the start of the service. Officiating Pastor Keith L. Thomas. Burial Woodlawn Cemetery.
A Public viewing will commence from 1-3PM, Thursday, March 4, 2021 at Leek & Son Funeral Home, Urbana.
Due to CDC regulations, attendance restrictions will be enforced.
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