On a day when America took time out to remember fallen soldiers that lost their lives in battle, the 2011 senior class at Lafayette High School held a memorial service for one of their own.
Demetrius Owens, a member of the LHS football team, died in a car wreck on Friday morning as he and members of his family traveled east to Atlanta on Highway 6. Owens, who was also known as “Meatball,” was thrown from the overturned vehicle and was later pronounced dead at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi according to Lafayette County coroner Rocky Kennedy.
Monday’s memorial service, held at Lafayette’s Willliam L. Buford Stadium, was organized by three of Owens classmates, as well as others from the LHS community.
La’Porchia Hervey, who worked alongside Nikki McChristian and Qyneshia Shaw to organize the service, was Owens’ girlfriend. She remembers getting the news Friday morning from her relative and not originally believing that the gregarious Owens was indeed dead.
“It was a shocking moment. He was a sweet boy and he never did harm to nobody. He was such a sweet person,” Hervey said. “It really was a big shock to me that he’s gone. Hopefully on Friday I can accept that he’s in a better place.”
Owens’ funeral will be held on Friday. The memorial service was the first of many sendoffs for Owens who was beloved by the student body, his fellow LHS teammates and coaching staff who had nothing but good things to say about him.
Hervey, McChristian and Shaw all said they were glad for the turnout on Monday considering it was a holiday and put together at the last minute.
“We didn’t think it was going to come together at first. We’re very pleased with how many people came on such short notice and about how everything turned out,” said McChristian, who credited Lafayette County deputy sheriff Jonathan Grantham for helping get several aspects of the service organized. “(Owens) was goofy and silly. You couldn’t see something like this happening to him. They say bad things happen to good people.”
One of Owens’ teammates, DeAndre Fondren, was visibly broken up about the loss. Fondren was very close to Owens and credited him with a ton of support during his high school career which included Owens giving him rides to LHS.
“I believe if it wasn’t for Meatball, I wouldn’t have graduated high school. Meatball is one of the closest friends I ever had. We played ball with each other every day. I miss him on the field, I miss the field, already. It’s hard to take in all at one time,” Fondren said. “Meatball is the person that had me up and rolling and laughing everywhere I went. He’s one of the best people to come through my life so far.”
Several people took time to talk about Owens during the service that featured a moment of silence and a prayer for the fallen Commodore. The senior class presented flowers in front of Owens’ senior picture while balloons were released at the end of the service.
“Everything they said about him was true. He never had a beef with anyone. I never knew he had any enemies. He always told me to do right and not to get into any trouble,” Fondren said. “Meatball was a good person. I’m going to remember the good times and keep my head up. I promise him that I’ll never leave his little brothers. He showed them much love. Whatever they wanted to do, he did it. I’m going to be there for them.”
Hervey said she planned to stay close to Owens’ family through the tough situation as well.
“There was never a day where he met somebody that didn’t like him. He was always friendly with everybody. He had a smile on his face all the time and it would just brighten your day up,” Hervey said “We’re going to really miss him. I’m going to stand by his family’s side and I hope we can get through this together.”
Great kid, player
LHS head coach Anthony Hart talked briefly at the service and credited Owens for his hard work in the weight room and on the field during his career that culminated with the Commodores winning the school’s first state title in football.
“Meatball is where he is supposed to be,” Hart told the crowd. “We’re the ones that better make sure that we’re OK. We take things for granted and we have to cherish these moments. We lost a family member, he was a member of our family. We have to learn to take care of our business while we’re here on earth in the short time we have left.”
On Friday, Hart said Owens was a joy to coach.
“In all my years of coaching, I have never been around a kid that was as easy to coach and easy to be around as Demetrius was,” Hart said Friday afternoon. “Demetrius was a special, special kid who always had a smile on his face. He was just a special young man. This is the second loss we’ve had in the last couple of weeks. We’re all kind of in shock over it all.”
Owens was the second recent former LHS player to have passed away this year. Chris Gipson, the 2007 EAGLE Co-Player of the Year, died May 3 at the age of 22. (May 31, 2011, Page 8)