His final wish was to go through the tunnel leading into his high school’s football stadium with his team one last time.
Coffee County High School football players honored their teammate Malik Sparkman’s dying wish and carried the talented linebacker’s coffin through the tunnel and across the field to the end zone, WSB-TV reports.
According to the station, the celebration, which was held at the Douglas, Ga., high school on Sunday, included more than 500 friends and family who showed up for the final goodbyes. His teammates remained stoic up until a video showing the star athlete started playing, reducing some to tears.
According to the news station, Sparkman, who passed away May 17 at the age of 18, was diagnosed with kidney cancer last year. His girlfriend, Tia Williams, told the news station that the teen was a “fighter” to the very end. “He always said he wasn’t ever going to give up and God has him,” Williams said. “He was a fighter.”
Of the team, she said, “They’re hanging in there. … It brought their team closer. They’re strong. They did take it hard at the funeral, but they know he’s not suffering anymore.”
Williams calls Sparkman her “great angel.”
Read more at WSB-TV.