There was a common thread among the hundreds of stories friends shared about Michael Jones Wednesday during a private memorial ceremony in White Plains.
The 25-year-old youth soccer coach for the New York Red Bulls organization always had a smile on his face, and would do everything possible to spread that smile to those around him.
"You never stop laughing when you're with him," said Coco Lefkowitz, 48, of Harrison, "that was basically the sentiment of the whole day."
Jones, who lived in West Harrison, was killed early Sunday morning near Union Sq. in New York City, according to an NYPD spokesperson. Published reports say he was stabbed multiple times by a lone assailant. Police are still searching for his killer.
Parents and members of the Red Bulls organization organized the memorial Wednesday at First Baptist Church in White Plains as a chance to remember the man who came to the U.S. from the United Kingdom hoping to spread his love of soccer.
By all accounts, he succeeded.
"I think he'll leave many legacies," said David Jervis, who is in charge of the Red Bulls training programs. "I think the legacy will be that we'll see young kids that he coached today, whether they go on to play high school soccer or college soccer, but they can look back and say 'Jonesy was my coach'."
Jones coached children ages 7 to 14 as a prelude to entering the Red Bulls’ soccer academy. He most recently coached a youth team in Armonk.
Dozens of youth soccer players attended the 90-minute ceremony, along with a large group of older players wearing Red Bulls jerseys with "Jonesy" printed on the back. Danny Friedman, 12, said the ceremony shows how many lives his coach touched during his years in the United States.
"He taught me everything I know about soccer," Friedman said. "He knew what to do with us, he taught us the right stuff at the right time, he got to know us very well and he's a great coach."
A video tribute was played during the ceremony. Several close friends took to the podium to share their memories of Jones.
"Tearful," Jervis said when asked to describe the ceremony. "A lot of memories of Jonesy, but at the same time a lot of smiles."
Jones' body is being transported back to the United Kingdom for a funeral. The Red Bulls will have a tribute and moment of silence before their final home game at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ.
Meanwhile, police continue to investigate Jones' death. Published reports say the stabbing could have been a case of mistaken identity. Police have released a video of the slashing suspect. The film shows a man with dark hair and a ponytail, dressed in black pants and a black jacket, walking down a Greenwich Village sidewalk near where Jones was found.
"I don't think any amount of information, or when they hopefully do catch (the man that did it), will help solve the pain, but we do hope for the sake of all his friends, his mom, his dad, that they do catch the suspect as soon as possible," Jervis said.
While coaching in Armonk, Lefkowitz said Jones spread a love for Liverpool soccer. There is a pocket of fans for the team that spread among children in the community, Lefkowitz said, mostly thanks to "coach Jones".
During his personal time, Jones has also been training a women's recreation soccer team in West Harrison. Mary Emery, 48, of Rye, plays on the team.
"He was an amazing guy, just an amazing, confident, funny, wonderful guy," said Emery. "It's a huge loss to the soccer community."