WAKEFIELD, Va. (WAVY) - Hundreds of people returned to the sports fields Tyquan Johnson grew up playing on to remember his life.
Hours after he graduated from high school Friday, the 18-year-old was shot in the back by a stray bullet at a graduation party in Surry County.
Johnson was an honor roll student, who graduated from Sussex Central High School with a 3.8 GPA. He was named athlete of the year for his accomplishments in baseball, basketball, track and football, which earned him a full ride to college.
"He had big dreams," said Katina White, Johnson's mother. "He didn't want the streets."
The last words White said to her son were 'I love you' as paramedics flew him from his graduation party to the hospital. She didn't know that was goodbye.
"I just can't believe it. I think it's a nightmare," said White. "I'm thinking they're going to call me tomorrow or tonight and say come and get him, but I know it's not going to happen."
Paul Rogers has coached baseball in Wakefield for 46 years, but of the thousands of players to pick up a bat, he says very few were as good a player or a person as Johnson.
"He was my role model," said Rogers. "Before we take the field each night, we always say the Lord's prayer as a team. Right over here, I'll never forget he said, 'Coach. You forgot something.' I looked right at him and I said, 'What did I forget?' He said 'Coach, we did not say the prayer.'"
Prayer was all Rogers could think about at the vigil Thursday night. He remembers Tyquan borrowed a key to use the batting cages last week.
"I still see him walking up the road, dragging his bat bag, with his baggy gym shorts on, coming to ball practice," said Rogers.
Johnson's four best friends wore their jerseys to his vigil, remembering the party and how they held Tyquan in their arms, trying to keep his mind off the bullet.
"We had him on the ground. He was talking to us," said Johnson's friend P.J. "We were asking what position he would play in college and all that. He was saying quarterback."
But they will never know what could have been. All they have are memories of Johnson. They hope his death is a wake up call in a community plagued by violence.
"Maybe everybody will wake up now," said White. "My son's gone. What are you waking up now for?"
Johnson's funeral will be held at Sussex Central High School Saturday at 1 p.m.. The public is welcome to attend.
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