JayShawn Covington, of Venice, known for his smile and enthusiasm for sports, died Thursday, March 22nd, due to heart problems.

Covington, 14, an eighth-grade student at Cornerstone Prep School in Venice, was awaiting a second heart transplant.

Covington received a heart transplant when he was one and a half months old, said his mother, Tanisha McNeal.

“Since then, he has been fine all his life,” said Covington’s aunt Tanae McNeal. “The doctors told us he wouldn’t live very long, but as the years went on, he grew stronger.”

But last year, Covington’s heart started to “act up,” said his aunt.

“That was when we found out he had coronary artery disease and he needed to be re-transplanted,” said Tanisha McNeal. “We were waiting for a new heart.”

Covington had a learning disability with reading and math, but he didn’t let that stop him, she said.

“He loved football, baseball, basketball — especially basketball,” said his aunt. “He played all the sports. The doctors told us to treat him special, but we just treated him normal, like any other kid.”

He frequently spent his time at Oakwood Recreation Center in Venice, where he started participating in sports at a young age.

Rick Selan, a friend and educational advocate for Covington, said he will always remember Covington as “a really happy kid with a great big smile.”

“He was a very kind child, very sweet,” said Selan. “He just loved people.”

“I just want everybody to remember the beautiful smile he had and how friendly he was,” said his mother. “He had a heart of gold. He loved everybody in the community and his family.”

Covington’s viewing is scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. Friday, March 30th, at Spalding Mortuary, 3045 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles 90016.

The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 31st, at Trinity Baptist Church, 1015 California Ave., Santa Monica.

Following the funeral, Covington is to be buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery, 720 E. Florence Ave., Inglewood.

All are welcome to attend.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to help Tanisha McNeal finance Covington’s burial. Checks may be sent to Spalding Mortuary, 3045 South La Brea Ave., Los Angeles 90016, with “JayShawn Covington” referenced; or donors may call Spalding Mortuary at (323) 934-1181.

Covington is survived by his mother Tanisha McNeal, his father Jamie Covington, uncles Jonathan McNeal, JoJo McNeal, Terrell McNeal, Timmie McNeal, Jr. and Trevor Covington; aunts Tanae McNeal, Jasmine McNeal and Tristen McNeal, grandmothers Marion Vaughn and Ursela Covington, grandfathers Timmie McNeal and Jerry Covington, many cousins, a half-sister, a half-brother and others.