Basketball coach remembers former player killed at Axton graduation party

Tion Burton was shot and killed at graduation party in Axton

DANVILLE, Va. – The Danville community is mourning the death of a recent high school graduate. Standout basketball player Tion Burton was at a graduation party at the Axton Lodge, "The Pines" when he was shot and killed.
Family members gathered for a vigil for the teen Sunday night, but Monday we're learning more about the young man from those who knew him.

Tion Burton was known to his family to be a sweet and sensitive person who loved to make everyone laugh, especially his grandmother. He had celebrated with his family over the weekend after graduating from high school.

His grandfather says he went to the party Saturday night a healthy person, but later the family got a call from the hospital about the devastating news of his death.

WSLS 10's Irisha Jones talked with one of his former basketball coaches by phone who is now at NC State. Thomas Carr coached Tion in eighth-grade and noticed the incredible amount of talent the young boy had.

Carr also coached Tion's older brother.
He visited with the family Monday after learning about Tion's passing saying the community lost a person who cared so much about others.

"Always a good listener and so to hear the news it was disbelief because he really had no enemies. Always have a great demeanor about him. And everyone that knew him thought the world of him," said Thomas Carr, former coach.

Wearing the number 4 Eagles jersey, Tion was known for being a team player on the basketball court. File video we have of Tion shows the guard, who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall, passing the basketball to others on the court.

Carr says Burton was ahead of his class in talent and ability.

"I always love watching him play because of how much better he made guys around him. It was a true indication of a great point guard but also a great person," said Carr.

Tion graduated from George Washington High School May 20. His life was cut short when he was attending a graduation party Saturday at Axton Lodge, "The Pines". The sheriff's office says the 17-year-old was shot and killed. Two others were also shot. Carr says he visited with the family after hearing the devastating news.

"I have a great relationship with the family. So I will always check on Tion. He was the same person to me then as he was when he was playing for me," said Carr.

Carr says he wants others who knew Tion to help keep his name and his spirit of giving alive.

"He helped kids at school they may not have had the best clothes or stuff to walk around or those that didn't have the most money," said Carr.

Tion's mother says he loved to laugh and made sure to keep a smile on the faces of others around him. She says the sometimes shy teen was planning the next steps of his life after high school before he died.

Carr says if Tion wanted to, he could have taken his basketball talents to college and beyond.

Before his passing, his mother says she was in the process of filling out a college application for him to Norfolk State University.

The family says they are still finalizing Tion's funeral services.

Danville Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stanley Jones provided WSLS 10 with this statement: 

"On behalf of the School Board and the Danville Public School staff, especially the staff at George Washington High School, we are deeply saddened by the loss of Tion Burton, our student and recent graduate.  Our prayers are with his family as we all mourn his loss,  He and so many other in our community are due a promising future.

It is imperative that we find a way as a community to the violence immediately."

The investigation is still ongoing as the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office is gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and following up on leads. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office: 434-432-7800