Aryona Leigh James, 17, entered heaven in the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
Aryona never wanted to be defined by her addiction or her mistakes. She was a beautiful and intelligent child who seemingly slipped through the cracks of the justice system. She was a feisty and outspoken individual who would do anything for anyone. She would always light up the room with her big bright smile and sense of humor, even while struggling with her own weaknesses of this world and life.
She loved her family deeply and fiercely.
She had dreams to become a veterinarian and every animal that she came across she wanted to adopt. She loved children with all of her heart and always wanted to play and interact with them.
Aryona believed strongly in second chances; maybe it was because she craved another chance for herself and other addicts. Hiding her story would not be a help to anyone who reads this. If her story could reach just one addict and help them to push even harder for another day of sobriety, encourage an active user to choose recovery or shine a light on this horrible epidemic — then her passing was not in vain.
Her strong and fierce drive along with her beautiful heart wanted to always help other people and other addicts. Aryona wanted to live. She had so many hopes and dreams for the future. She fought hard all the way to the end.
This demon of addiction is wiping out a generation of people. Addiction does not discriminate. It will take hold and destroy anyone in its path; including their families and people who love them.
Addiction hides in the faces of everyday people all around us. Aryona wasn’t just “another statistic” or just “another one gone to soon.” She was on her path to sobriety when a man that she knew and trusted re-entered her life and brought back the very thing that took her life. She had a huge heart with a bright future full of gifts ahead of her that the world lost and can never be replaced.
Please honor and cherish the memory of my “Ary.” For anyone who reads this or to anyone who knew her; think twice before you judge an addict. I pray that justice will be served in Jesus' name.
Aryona leaves behind to cherish her memory, her mother, Jamie Lynn Standridge (Tim Standridge); her father, Daniel Aaron James; her siblings: Ashley Louise, Alexavier Nico, Zachary Tyler, Skylar Grace, Dominic Lane, Maggie Mozelle, Joshua Garrett, Allie Elizabeth Raine, Graysen Luke and Hailee Savannah Claire; grandparents, Ronnie James Sr. (deceased), Vickie and Jeff Poling, Thomas Allen Crandell (deceased), Sandra and Steven King and James and Jo Ann Standridge; and aunts and uncles: Rachel and Scott Carpenter (Dominic, Christian, Alexandria, Jerry), T.J. Poling (Desiree, Iris), Adrian Crandall Fishler, Ronnie James Jr. (Brittany, Jessica, Victoria, Sophia), Laura and Jason Cobb (Mackinsey, Adian), Bryce and Joanna (Keesey) Chamberlain (Bishop Liam).
Aryona leaves behind many friends, including her best friends: Raven Browder and Carli along with many other extended family members that spanned from California, Texas, Ohio, Louisiana, and back to Tennessee.
A special thanks to Jason and Lindsey Siler, Hearth Hospice Staff, Jimmie’s Flowers, Westmore Church of God, Chris Schelich, Lake Forest Middle School and Staff, Ray and Angie Stephens and the team at ProBuilders, and the entire Cleveland community and surrounding areas for the outpouring of support, love and compassion in support of my precious Aryona.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Monday Aug. 23, 2021, at 7 p.m. at Westmore Church of God, with the Rev. Marvin Eskew and the Rev. Chris Schelich officiating.
Her family will receive friends from 4 until 7 p.m. prior to the service.
The family will hold a private graveside service on Tuesday.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Aryona James Memorial Fund at Southern Heritage Bank in Cleveland, or to the GoFundMe page established in her memory.
Companion Funeral and Cremation Service, Cleveland Chapel, is in charge of arrangements
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