Ladarious Phillips was remembered at a service Friday in the packed gym of Handley High School, his alma mater, in Roanoke, Ala. “DaDa”, 20, was a multi-sport athlete while at Handley and eventually signed to play football (fullback specifically) at Auburn in 2010. He had planned to transfer to Jacksonville State.
The gym was full of white t-shirts emblazoned with Phillips’ picture.
Roanoke residents and Auburn friends and teammates alike said Phillips was always smiling and always willing to be a friend to those who needed one. The word most heard about his smile is “infectious”.
The Phillips family's spokesperson, Camille Olmstead, told the Opelika-Auburn News, “No one has seen a smile like that.”
Olmstead said Phillips would hang out with the younger kids of the community who didn’t have father figures. He would often take them fishing, to play basketball or throw a football with them. “Most people don’t know the character and spirit he had.”
The spokesperson told reporters before the service that as emergency service providers arrived on the scene of the shooting last Saturday, Phillips told them, despite three gunshot wounds to his own chest, to help his wounded friends first.
The victim's mother, Jemicia Phillips, prepared the following written statement for Olmstead to read aloud:
“I hope in the coming days and years, as the legal system does the work necessary to resolve the senseless murder of my child, I will be there every day to ensure that the man who allegedly killed him is brought to justice. I would also like to extend my condolences to all the other victims of this tragedy. They were young people in the prime of their lives, and I am saddened because we are all sharing the same pain.”
A service was held at Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Loachapoka for DeMario Pitts on Friday.
He was fondly remembered as a “brother” and someone who “never looked for (trouble)” according to 19-year-old Jaquavious Strickland of Loachapoka. “If you ever needed anything, he’d give it to you,” said Strickland.
The grandfather of Pitts’ daughter, Randall Lipscomb, said Pitts, 20, was never a troublemaker and “he never disrespected me and did what he could for his kid.” “Da-Kidd”, as Pitts was nicknamed, also had a young son.
The J.E. Mathis Auditorium in Valdosta, Ga., hosted the funeral of Ed Christian, also just 20, on Saturday. The Rev. H. Mathis told the Christian family to hold on to hope and faith and to “stay in the race.”
“We know that (he) is gone. He is at home,” Mathis said. “There is no sorrow in his heart anymore because God has called him to a new place.”
The last week has been a trying time for the Lowndes High School and Valdosta communities, who turned out in droves for the memorial, including members of the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, where Christian’s father is an officer, showed to offer their support.
Jarius Humphrey spoke and riveted the attendees saying, “That man that killed my brother, his mind wasn’t in the right spot. Everyone should look out for their neighbors.”
Chette Williams, the Auburn football team chaplain, spoke briefly to give the program’s condolences. “We grieve with the family. Our hearts are crushed, but we celebrate with the family because we know what kind of guy Ed Christian was.”
After the service, Christian’s body was laid to rest one final time at the Boston Cemetery in Boston, Ga.