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People Pay Tribute to Former Orange County High School Student-Athlete

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Hundreds came out to a candlelight vigil on July 30 Hundreds came out to a candlelight vigil on July 30
Darius Minor was about to start his freshman year at the University of Maine Darius Minor was about to start his freshman year at the University of Maine
ORANGE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

Hundreds turned out in Orange County on Monday, July 30, to remember former student-athlete Darius Minor.

Students and faculty held a candlelight vigil in his honor on the football field, the place they say he felt the happiest.

It seemed as if the entire community knew 18-year-old Darius Minor as people flooded the field to honor him Monday night. They came with heavy hearts, and attendees said his death is a reminder that each day is never promised.

Minor was First-Team All-Conference for the Hornets, and he was three weeks into football training at the University of Maine.

“He was a big part of the community,” says Briancae Mortoa, a former Orange County High School student. “Like he went far, everything he wanted to accomplish he did. Like he did it, it’s just, like, he made everybody proud. But when we heard the news...it was like, ‘how?’”

Minor’s bright future took a turn after he collapsed during practice at the university and died on Tuesday, July 24.

“In times like this, it’s easy to ask, ‘why?’” says Mike Neely, the athletic director at OCHS. “Why would something like this happen, and search for answers. But if you can't find the answers, maybe you can find comfort in things like this.”

On Monday night, students, friends, and faculty shared stories, hugs, and tears at a candlelight vigil held in his memory.

“When I saw all the reports and stories, I just broke down and, like, my heart really hurt for him and his family, and Orange County, because he really meant a lot to everybody here,” says Hannah Jones, who was friends with Minor.

Many say there is one specific thing they’ll miss most about him.

“His smile,” says Jones. “His smile always lit up the hallway, always made everyone else want to smile.”

“Just the biggest smile you can imagine,” says Neely.

“I think some kids are going to recognize the fact that nothing is promised and one thing Darius did is he lived every day to the fullest, he was all out 100 percent,” says Kelly Guempel, the principal at OCHS.

Minor was planning to study political science in college.

The interim athletic director at the university says the campus is devastated.

If you would like to support a memorial for him, click here.

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