FORT BELKNAP - Harlem High School graduate Allen J. "A.J." Long Soldier Jr., 18, whose Indian name was WiYaka Maza WaCi or "Iron Feather Dances," a student at Haskell Indian College in Lawrence, Kan., died of undetermined causes Monday at a Havre hospital.
A wake service begins at 5 p.m. today, with rosary at 7 p.m., at the Red Whip Center. Funeral Mass is 11 a.m. Saturday in the Harlem High School gym, with burial in the Hi-way Cemetery at Fort Belknap. Edwards funeral home of Chinook is handling the arrangements.
Allen John "A.J." Long Soldier Jr., passed away Nov. 23, 2009. A.J. was born June 22, 1991, in Havre, to Allen Long Soldier Sr. and Dayna Jean Bear. He was raised in Fort Belknap and attended Harlem Public Schools until his freshman year then transferred to Hays/Lodge Pole for his freshman and sophomore years, where he led the Thunderbirds to the state tournament. They placed third place his freshman year and took the state title when he was a sophomore and named the state tournament Most Valuable Player. A.J. then went back to Harlem for his junior and senior years, later transferring to UNITY in Cherokee, North Carolina. Upon graduation, he attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, where he was planning to study sports medicine and continue his basketball career.
A.J.'s hobbies included listening to music, traveling, laughing with his friends, eating, hanging out with his numerous friends and family. A.J. was very passionate about his love for his family, especially his mom. He was a mama's boy, who always kissed his mom and would tell her "Mom, there are three things I love in this life, what are they? Dayna would reply, "Basketball, basketball, and basketball." A.J. would state, "No mom, you, my brother and sisters, then basketball in that order." On his many basketball travels, A.J. would call home to report his stats, Dayna always recalled answering his phones calls and hearing her baby say "Sup Mama." He was never afraid to let it be known that he was her baby.
Ever since he was a little guy, A.J. wanted to be playing ball. He used to always be at "The Whip" or "The Courts", "perfecting his "J" as he would say. A.J. was a very talented athlete in every sport and made many lifelong friends through his athletic career. He was a very happy, carefree, free spirited, respectful young man. A.J. was admired by both young and old alike. He was a hero to kids all over and would always talk and play with them, for he was just as fun and free spirited as they are. He was introduced to the game of basketball by his mother, later stating that he added his own flare. A.J. was well known for his signature shot of a "cross cross fade splash" as he would say. He was dominant both defensively and offensively on the court and would stun fans with his superb dunks and nothing-but-net 3-pointers. He was an unselfish and humble athlete and always respected the game, his coaches, teammates, opponents, and fans.
He started playing in youth tourneys at a very young age with his classmates. He won numerous medals, awards, coats, trophies, sweaters, and MVPs. He was a kid way ahead of his years when it came to basketball. During his junior high career in Harlem, A.J. and his teammates maintained a 26-2 record, placing first in the Havre Central Tournament both years. As a little guy, he admired NBA stars Michael Jordan and LeBron James. He also admired the local talent of the Wildcats and the Thunderbirds, watching them both take the State Championships in 2001/2002 and wanting to do as they did. As a freshman, A.J. became known as the freshman "Phenom" leading his Thunderbirds to the district title, divisional title, and a remarkable third-place finish at the State Class C Tournament. This was only his first taste of fulfilling his dream of taking home the state title. As a sophomore, A.J. was a sensation, noticeably the best player on the floor, winning games without having to score and his presence alone was enough to win. A.J. was a playmaker when his game needed him to be. That year, he again led the Thunderbirds to the District 9C title, the divisional title and fulfilling his goal of winning the Class C State Championship, where he was named Most Valuable Player. Following the thrill of his sophomore year, A.J. gained recognition among the basketball world. He received numerous invites to many prestigious tournaments, some of those invites included NABY Hoops in Pheonix, Arizona, the Montana Timberjacks AAU Team, the NES Showcase in Macy, Nebraska, The Hi-Line Invitational Tournament, Montana Native American All-Star Classic, along with various college shoot-outs and local independent tournaments. He was a legend in his own time, known to many as "Siouxperman". A.J. will be greatly missed and always remembered and never ever forgotten. As we know, A.J. will still be "Hoopin It" on the courts in Heaven.
He is survived by his parents, Allen John Long Soldier Sr., of Pine Ridge, S.D., and Dayna Jean Bear of Fort Belknap; brother Trey Lance Birdtail; and three sisters, TaNiesha Birdtail, Tayonnah Birdtail and Dezmond Snell all of Fort Belknap. He also is survived by grandparents, Gramma Claud Bear, Grampa Charlie Buckman, Grandmother Georgina Weasel and Grandfather Leon "Duke" King of Fort Belknap, Grandmother Louise Blacksmith and Grandfather Vernell Long Soldier of Pine Ridge S.D.; a very special uncle, Deleano King, a special brother, Adrian Fox; a special friend, Summer Stricker; along with numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins from both sides of his family.
He was preceded in death by great-grandparents, Wallace and Marie Bear; uncles John and Joe Bear; great-aunt Rosella Birdtail; aunt Aimee Jo Fox; and special aunt, Brandi Blatt.
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