BY KATIE ARCIERI
The accident, which killed Mr. Rabb's cousin, Ade Ruffin, and left Mr. Rabb in critical condition, did not dampen his hopes of graduating from high school and studying law in college, said Mr. Rabb's aunt, Bobi Ruffin.
Mr. Rabb's family and friends are now left with the memory of his dreams.
Mr. Rabb, of Columbia, died April 28 at his mother's home in Maplewood, N.J. He was 19. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
Born in 1982 in Elizabeth, N.J., and raised in Montclair, N.J., Mr. Rabb was the second youngest of seven brothers. He spent his childhood playing video games and basketball on the courts of Turers Park, a community park in Montclair, N.J., said his mother, Rasheedah Rabb. During his teenage years, Mr. Rabb worked at a Dunkin' Donuts and a local ice cream parlor.
Mr. Rabb was fastidious about his appearance. "Everything had to match," his mother said.
He also had a firm command of the English language, his mother added. "He would constantly correct you," she said.
Mr. Rabb graduated from Glenfield Middle School and attended Montclair High School in New Jersey. But after visiting his aunt's home in Columbia, where his cousin and good friend Ade lived, Mr. Rabb decided to move to Columbia in September 1999.
After the August 2000 accident, Mr. Rabb was determined to walk again.
"He told me he was not going to let this accident get him down," his mother said.
Contrary to a doctor's prognosis, Mr. Rabb learned to walk again.
Nine months after the accident, Mr. Rabb was walking but also using a wheelchair, his aunt said. The 6-foot-1-inch Chicago Bulls fan didn't like having to use a wheelchair and saw it more as a barrier than as support.
"I really felt that Wali wanted to make it on his own," Mrs. Ruffin said. "That wheelchair was an obstacle for him." In February 2002, Mr. Rabb stopped using it, she said.
The Wilde Lake High School guidance office also played a role in helping Mr. Rabb after the accident, Mrs. Ruffin said.
"The school was very receptive," she said. "They scheduled his classes on the first two floors, gave him the key to the elevator."
The office set up tutoring for Mr. Rabb and arranged a taxi to take him home after school. The school's counselors were happy to be "a sounding board" for Mr. Rabb, said Joyce Luy, the guidance secretary at Wilde Lake High School.
On April 26, Mr. Rabb underwent an eye operation at University Hospital in Newark, N.J., to correct the damage that had been done to his right eye. The surgery was successful, but Mr. Rabb later complained about having a headache and his eye being "puffy," his mother said.
Nevertheless, Mr. Rabb had been in "excellent spirits" on April 27, Mrs. Rabb said. He had taken prescribed eyedrops and was looking forward to working out with his mother at a local YMCA the next day.
At 7 a.m. on April 28, Mrs. Rabb found her son on the floor outside the bathroom, she said. Medical technicians told her that Mr. Rabb's heart had stopped.
Mr. Rabb is survived by his parents, Rasheedah Rabb of Maplewood, N.J., and William Rabb of Plainfield, N.J.; brothers, Amir Rabb of Montclair, N.J., Jalil Rabb of Columbia, Gregory Rabb of Union, N.J., Ahmad Johnson of Newark, N.J., Saluddin Rabb of Plainfield, N.J., and Malik Rabb of Newark, N.J.
Mr. Rabb was preceded in death by his grandmother, Nanie James, and grandparents Anna and Robert Dunlap.
A funeral was held April 30 in Newark, N.J., with the Imam Wahy Dean Sharriff officiating.
Burial took place at Glendale Cemetery in Bloomfield, N.J.