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Students at San Antonio high school say goodbye to popular football player

January 14, 2019

Hundreds of students, parents and other family members gathered Sunday on the football field behind Harlan High School to release blue-and-white balloons marked with #82 — the football number belonging to Shomari Anderson, 17, who died Saturday in an car accident.

Details of the crash weren’t available, but head coach Eddie Salas said Anderson, a starting receiver, was driving alone and “apparently lost control of the car.”

Before the prayer gathering in this semi-rural area in the Northside Independent School District, the students — some clutching flower bouquets and wearing letter jackets — hugged, cried and then stood silently on the field. Some signed condolence cards for Anderson’s parents, who attended the prayer gathering but didn’t speak.

Their son, who was a junior, and his younger brother, sophomore Kamali Anderson, moved with the family from Florida about a year ago.

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“Shomari became part of our family,” Salas said, sometimes pausing to collect himself as he addressed the crowd.

His death “puts everything in perspective,” he said. “Life is all about relationships. It’s not about winning or losing the game, it’s about loving each other, caring for each other.…Shomari’s legacy will live through me, it will live through all of us.”

Samuel Carter, 18, a senior and defensive end on the team, wept openly during his speech about his late friend.

“This is hard for all of us,” he said. “Shomari was always smiling, always energetic. He was more than just a teammate. He was my brother. All the jokes, all the hard work, all the inspiration on and off the field — it doesn’t stop. He continues on.”

In his time on the team, Shomari distinguished himself, catching 24 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns. In the Hawk’s final game last season, he grabbed a pass one-handed for a first down.

Right before releasing the balloons, which floated away in an opalescent sky, Carter and the assembled throng intoned “Long live Sho, and fly high Alexa.” The latter referred to one of the victims in a recent triple murder in a gated luxury residential development in Boerne, a 16-year-old who has been described as a Clark High School student.

Kaytlynn Byron, 17, said before the gathering she couldn’t quite believe her close friend Anderson was gone.

“He was such a funny person, very outgoing,” she said. “When he showed up, everyone had fun. This just feels fake, that he’s gone. It doesn’t feel real.”

Melissa Fletcher Stoeltje is a staff writer in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | mstoeltje@express-news.net | Twitter: @mstoeltje

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