Friends remember an Alabama A&M University student who drowned

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- An Alabama A&M University student died from an accidental drowning at DeSoto State Park on Friday.

Franklin James Banks II, also known as "Franky," was a 20-year-old sophomore at the university, majoring in forestry.

Venita King worked at AAMU as the Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management & Director of Admissions when she met Franky.

"When I met him, he was just kind, polite," said King. "He said yes ma'am, no ma'am, and he greeted me with a hug. I knew then that he was special." King describes Franky as "engaging, handsome, polite, considerate, encouraging."

Franky's sister, Kellon Banks, says he loved to be outdoors. "He loves to hunt, fish, hike, ride four-wheelers, mud-ride, anything that can be done outside, he loves it!"

Franky also played collegiate baseball and football at AAMU. "He was the MVP in almost every single sport on the list: baseball, basketball, football, track," said Kellon. "He literally played every sport and was amazing in them all."

Hundreds of people have left comments on Facebook about Franky and the impact he made on their lives. King says the family is encouraged by all the messages. "They are learning things that he did for other people that he probably never would've shared," said King.

Many of his friends plan on driving to Monroeville to attend his funeral on Thursday. Franky's mom, Carole Banks, says they expect to have over a thousand people in attendance.

King says Carole invited some friends to stay at their home. "She opened her door because they touched him and Franky touched them," said King.

Alabama A&M University posted on Facebook that the entire university family is mourning Franky's death.

AAMU Health and Counseling Services posted on Facebook that they are offering support for any students needing to speak with a counselor.

"I know that a lot of our students are hurting," says Carlquista Slay, an AAMU counselor. "A lot of our faculty and staff members that knew him as well are hurting and just know we are here for you. We have counselors on staff, we also have after-hour crisis lines."

Slay says it is important to reach out and share your feelings instead of keeping them to yourself.

If you need help, you can make an appointment at the center, walk in, or call a counselor on the phone. They can also refer you to another counselor in your area, if needed.

  • HCS Clinic Telephone: (256) 372-5800
  • After-Hours Counseling Emergency: (256) 425-4554

The Alabama A&M John and Ella Byrd McCain Health and Counseling Center can be found at 4900 Meridian Street North in Huntsville.

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