YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – A memorial was held Wednesday night at Youngstown State University for a former football player who was killed in a crash Saturday.
Darius Shackleford lit up the YSU scoreboard as more than 200 people stood in Stambaugh Stadium to honor his life.
Seeing the number of people whose lives he touched was nothing surprising to his friends and family.
“I was proud. Like you knew he was special to all these people to show up. He was the life of the party. He was just a light, and I wasn’t surprised,” said Dwan Shackleford, Darius’s aunt.
Darius’s friend and teammate Nathan Mays said Darius inspired goodness.
“To see his arms stretch from Newark to Youngstown, Ohio. He had such a tight hold on multiple communities, and it’s incredible to be able to see one individual be able to inspire so much goodness,” Mays said.
From 2015 to 2020, Darius was an athlete at YSU. His former coach, Bo Pelini, says it shows how much he’ll be missed just by the number of people who were on the field Wednesday night.
“Just watching him grow from a kid, a skinny kid I recruited out of high school, to the man he grew into. It was always about him helping other people, and he was a great teammate. I know he’ll be missed,” Pelini said.
Off the field, his aunt remembers Darius as more.
“He was just more of everything. Just extra but in all good ways,” Dwan Shackleford said.
You could feel the love the people had for Darius, but they said it was usually him making sure everyone around him felt loved and happy.
“He was always so positive for everybody else. Even if he was hurting, he was positive for everybody else. He never wanted anyone to worry about him. He was the best human I’ve ever met in my life,” said Taylor Bell, Darius’s girlfriend.
Darius was so much to so many people and continues to be. Their message to him is this:
“We’ll miss you Shack” – Coach Bo Pelini
“Love you, Shack” – Nathan Mays
“I love you so much, and I can’t wait until the day we get to be reunited” – Taylor Bell
Darius was finishing up his communications degree this year and would have graduated in the Spring. His friends say in the last few days, he was as happy as ever and knowing that is helping them get through.