His Arbutus Golden Eagles football jersey in hand, Marquis Manigo walked toward the candlelight vigil taking place on the football field at Arbutus Middle School on Monday evening. The scores of people in attendance burst into applause and cheered the 13-year-old.
Only four days earlier, on Sept. 22, Marquis' two brothers, Tyquis Moore, 11, and Jaquis Manigo, 7, along with his mother, Michelle Manigo, 33, died in an early-morning fire in Baltimore. Ten rowhouses were damaged in the deadly blaze.
The vigil to memorialize the two boys who died was held at the football field at 5525 Shelbourne Road where all three boys played football for the Arbutus Golden Eagles, a youth team run by the Arbutus Athletic Association.
Teammates, coaches, parents and Baltimore firefighters stood on the perimeter holding candles as family members of the victims sat in the middle of the gathering.
As music played, teammates read poems and coaches touted the strength of the Golden Eagles family. Sobs could be heard throughout the 45-minute ceremony.
Vigil organizers brought 800 candles; they said only 100 remained by the time the ceremony started.
Many in attendance wore white T-shirts that had an "A" with a halo over it in between the numbers 74, worn by Tyquis, and 48, worn by Jaquis..
A nearby concession sold food with proceeds going to the Manigo Family Fund, which Matthew Kuhn, the president of the club, had set up to support Marquis.
This wasn't the first gathering of the Arbutus Golden Eagles since the loss of the two players.
Each of the teams, which are divided by age group, played in Linganore on Sept. 24.
Marquis suited up and played for his 11-13 team.
"You could tell he was (upset), especially at certain times he was holding back tears," Kuhn said. He said Marquis made several tackles, including ones that prevented touchdowns. "I still looked to him to pump the team up and get everybody up and running.
"He's gotta be one of the toughest kids I ever coached."
During the vigil ceremony, speakers told Marquis he wasn't alone, that he had the support of the entire Arbutus Golden Eagles organization.
Chris Warfield, the third-year president of the Arbutus Recreation and Parks Council, concluded her speech by saying, "Marquis, this is for you, dear."
Then "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers began playing over the sound system, and the crowd began swaying and singing along.
Toward the end, two sets of red, yellow, orange and white balloons were released into the air and the crowd yelled together, "Once an Eagle, always an Eagle."
Terrez Sullivan, 10, a teammate of Tyquis, said he will miss him.
"Tyquis was a funny person to be around, always joking around," Terrez said, noting that Tyquis gave Terrez his nickname "T-bone Steak-ums."
"I'm used to always playing next to him," Terrez said, noting that he and Tyquis were both defensive linemen. "It was kinda hard not seeing him right there beside me saying 'T-bone get ready, get ready.'"
Coach Tom Arnold coached Jaquis and recalled his energy and spirit after the ceremony.
In 19 years of coaching, Jaquis "was the first kid that I've yelled at who's told me, 'Thank you,' " Arnold said with tears in his eyes. "He was the smallest kid on my team, but he hit harder than the biggest kid.
"He was a special, special person."