ALBERTVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — There are a lot of heavy hearts in the Albertville High School community this week as students and teachers, along with faculty and members of the community, are mourning the loss of a student-athlete who died in a car crash.
Julius Jamear “JJ” Staten was said to be a star athlete for the Albertville High School football team and a standout student.
“Just a super kid. I know the whole school loved him,” said Albertville High School football coach Bert Browne.
During the morning of Labor Day, Staten was killed in a single-vehicle crash that happened on Alabama Highway 205 in Marshall County. Browne says breaking the news to his team was one of the hardest things he ever had to do.
Staten was an excellent student in the classroom and a force on the field, playing on both sides of the football as an offensive and defensive lineman, but it was who he was as a person that was most memorable.
His coach stated that he was a special student-athlete, that was one of a kind.
“It’s kind of one of those deals where you go numb, you really do. I mean it’s something that you’re not prepared for a 17-year-old to pass away. He was a great soul, just a great kid. I mean just a big old fun-loving kid and everybody liked him,” Browne told News 19.
The junior was described as a positive individual who would walk the halls of his high school smiling from ear to ear. His coach says he was a gentile giant who left an everlasting impact on his entire community.
Albertville High School principal Jordan Phillips also spoke highly of the student-athlete. Phillips says Staten had an impactful attitude that traveled throughout his campus.
“He was so positive, our teachers were telling us all kinds of stories about just how he loved life, how he was just so positive, that big smile you’d see. JJ was just a larger-than-life character, he was an awesome student and an awesome athlete,” Phillips said.
The Aggies football coach says Staten’s death will leave a void in the hearts of many for a long time and following the tragedy, he’s giving his players a new message.
“You gotta love your teammates, coaches need to love your players, tell them how much you care about them. It puts things into perspective and you know you really need to cherish every second you have with people,” Browne said.
A fundraiser was started in Staten’s honor to raise funds for a proper farewell, and in less than 24 hours, the fundraiser exceeded $20,000 dollars in donations from the Albertville community.
Prior to Friday’s home game, the Aggies will honor JJ Staten, a tribute that will continue throughout the entire year at Albertville High School.