Dwayne Haskins remembered by friends, family at memorial services

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On the pitch where he became a football star, the family of Dwayne Haskins kept a guard. Below the 50-yard line, Haskins’ old No. 7 was spray-painted in blue and yellow, and beneath it sat a helmet, sweater and four flickering candles behind a red velvet rope. The video board read: “In loving memory… May 3, 1997 – April 9, 2022.”

Sunday night at Bullis School in Potomac, Md. filled the stands one last time for Haskins, the quarterback who dazzled with one arm like no other, the 24-year-old who was hit and killed as he crossed a highway in South Florida.

As the sun went down, the audience watched video tributes and listened to family, friends and coaches tell stories about the man nicknamed “Simba”. Speakers remembered great games – disrupting Georgetown Prep on an injured ankle in 2015, stepping in for an injured teammate to beat rival Michigan in 2017 – and how much Haskins did to show others he loved. Person after person highlighted his statistics, selflessness and smile.

“Dwayne loved big and he gave time,” Ohio State Coach Ryan Day said.

This memorial service was the last in a weekend full of them. Haskins’ wife, Kalabrya, held the first Friday in Pittsburgh, where her husband had played for the Steelers, and on Saturday, his parents organized a celebration of life in Rockaway, NJ, not far from where he grew up.

This windy Sunday night in Potomac felt like shared grief. Many participants wore Haskins’ old jerseys, equipment from his clothing line, or T-shirts from the Haskins Family Foundation. Many cried. Some – such as former NFL player Shawn Springs, a former Washington standout who helped convince Haskins to move from New Jersey to the DC area of ​​high school – still seemed dazed that some of this could be real.

Maryland football coach Michael Locksley said he understood what the Haskins family was going through. His son Meiko, who was shot and killed in 2017, would have turned 30 on Sunday. Locksley acknowledged that the loss will never be easier, but noted that if you lift good memories, it helps – a feeling Senator Cory Booker (DN.J.) shared in a letter.

“After my father’s death, I found solace in the knowledge that even though death can end life, it cannot end love,” Booker wrote to Haskins’ family. “Though no words can comfort you, I know that Dwayne’s love will sustain all who knew him – and that your love and his love will carry you through these difficult days.”

The Washington Commanders, who drafted Haskins in 2019, had a strong presence on guard, including co-owners Daniel and Tanya Snyder, team president Jason Wright, senior adviser Doug Williams, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese, defensive end Chase Young, defensive tackle Jonathan Allen and offensive lineman Keith Ismael.

Washington wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who appeared in two tribute videos capturing passages from Haskins in Ohio State, spoke at the service Saturday, and on Sunday, the Haskins family shared a letter that Grace McLaurin, Terry’s mother, sent to Haskins’ mother, Tamara.

“That’s how Terry Sr. and I will remember [Dwayne]”He had a mega-smile that could be seen from afar when he approached you,” wrote Grace McLaurin. “And when I had occasion to greet him from time to time, he leaned in with a hug or a handshake and said softly, ‘How are you, Mrs. McLaurin?’ Words are inadequate in this difficult time. “

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Kalabrya Haskins attended Sunday service in a black-and-yellow letterman jacket with “HASKINS” across her back. She and her family sat in the stands instead of on the field with Haskins’ family and friends.

Day, who was Haskins’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State, said he remembers the first time he had Haskins for dinner. Haskins played catch with his son, RJ, in the yard for 45 minutes – though he did not know RJ well.

Day said he asked RJ if he would come to the service. RJ, who Day said has hardly taken off his Haskins jersey since learning of his death, declined, pointing to what Haskins had written on it: “Keep working lil bro!”

“It has been said before that some men do not fear death; they fear being irrelevant or insignificant, ”Day said. “I can tell you something right now: Dwayne Haskins left a legacy. He was relevant; he was significant; he influenced so many people. … Ohio State and our program are forever in debt.”

Haskin’s parents, who spoke at Saturday’s service, did not speak Sunday. They stood behind their daughter, Tamia, as she gave a powerful, weeping speech. According to family history, Dwayne prayed to God for a little sister before his parents got Tamia, and siblings were close to growing up.

In her teens, Tamia said she and Dwayne used to say they would give up everything, including their careers, to see the other succeed. She wanted to be an actress; Dwayne wanted to play quarterback at Ohio State and reach the NFL. Dwayne had achieved both of these goals.

“Unfortunately, Dwayne will not be physically here to see what I accomplish,” she said. “I have a show on the way to May and I wish he could watch it. I keep reflecting on the productions I was a part of at Bullis and anytime Dwayne could handle it, would he always be in the front row and shouted, ‘This is my sister!’ I had to explain to him that you must not do it. It’s not a stadium. But you know hun ”she laughed.

“Even though I wish he was physically here, I imagine he’s smiling down at me in heaven, which is the best place in the house. Dwayne, you want a picture on the front row of me that builds my own heritage and honors you through everything I create and accomplish. I can hear you screaming, ‘This is my sister!’ from heaven. And now you can be as tall as you want. Until I see you again, save me a seat – because I have so much to share with you. “

“I love you so much, friend.”

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