BRIDGEPORT — Jacob Bass lived for music.
The 20-year-old Bridgeport resident first picked up a saxophone when he was about 10 years old, then practiced for hours on end with any instrument he could find, even teaching himself piano and guitar. He loved the complex rhythms of jazz and the smoother sounds of John Legend.
"Marching band. Pep band. Any music. He was all about music. He would not leave the house without his tuba mouthpiece in his pocket. He was always walking around buzzing into it, practicing," said his sister, 18-year-old Alicia Bass.
On Thursday — the same day he'd successfully auditioned for a part in an a cappella singing group — the VanderCook College of Music student was killed after his bicycle collided with a car at 33rd Street and Emerald Avenue about 11 p.m.
As family and friends mourn the loss of the promising musician, his family is starting a tuba scholarship at the selective music school where Bass was attending. The Park Forest native planned to teach music to high school students, maybe even one day directing the band at his high school alma mater, Rich East.
VanderCook president Charles T. Menghini said in a statement Bass was "very serious about his music and very serious that he was going to make a difference in other peoples’ lives through the power of music education."
Menghini said "there is no doubt that Jacob would have been a great teacher," describing him as "a pied piper who would have had students beating down the doors to be in his music classes and in his presence."
"All the students, faculty, and staff of VanderCook College of Music were touched positively by this young man and his presence will be greatly missed," said the school president.
Police say Bass was traveling westbound on 33rd Street when he pedaled through a red light and struck the driver's side of a southbound Jeep Wrangler.
The driver of the car that struck Bass, a 20-year-old man, was ticketed for failing to produce a license but was legally licensed to drive, police said. Authorities did not release his name.
Alicia Bass said her family was exploring the possibility that her brother and his cycling partner were caught in a short yellow light after getting waved through the intersection by a southbound motorist who was stopped at the intersection.
The Jeep, they believe, passed the stopped car and drove through the two-lane intersection just as Bass and his friend arrived there.
The impact from the crash sent Bass across the pavement and knocked off his shoes and backpack, witnesses said. He was taken to Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Alicia Bass said her family was trying to honor Jacob's memory by staying upbeat and remembering him for the way he was: "Always happy, always laughing, dancing."
"We're trying to keep it together and stay strong for him and for the family. He wouldn't want anybody crying or moping around," she said.
Bass's death was the second cycling-related fatality in Bridgeport since June, when a 59-year-old Chinese immigrant Suai Xie was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver.
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