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Family, friends gather to remember Morgan State's Marquese Meadow

— More than 100 relatives, friends and neighbors gathered for a candlelight vigil Friday night in the southeastern part of the city to honor the life of Morgan State freshman defensive lineman Marquese Meadow.

Mourners stood outside the home of Benita Meadow, Marquese Meadow's mother, to reflect on the life of the 18-year old, who died on Sunday, two weeks after collapsing during a practice on Aug. 10. An autopsy revealed that complications related to heat stroke caused Meadow's death, which was ruled accidental.

Many wore T-shirts with pictures of Meadow on the front and back, with words such as "Forever Marquese" and "You'll Always Be Missed."

Seven candles were lit and placed under an easel propping up a collage of photos of Meadow. The vigil lasted 80 minutes and was capped by Benita Meadow's reflections of her son.

"He was my strength," she said. "I love him, and I'm going to miss him, but I know he's asking me to be strong and to stop crying."

Meadow's younger sister Cali recited a poem to honor her brother. "I did not look this up," she joked. "I wrote it from my heart because I miss him."

District of Columbia mayor Vincent Gray attended the vigil and called Meadow a great football player who disrupted many opposing offenses.

"And I'm not just saying that," Gray said. "I saw him play as an 11th grader. I saw him play as a 12th grader. In order to start on Friendship's team, you've got to be good."

Antonio Hinton, who played youth football with Meadow, said one of his fondest memories was when the pair would run laps in practice. Hinton, a running back and linebacker, would inevitably create some separation, which would lead Meadow to call out to him.

"He would say, 'Man-man [Hinton's nickname], don't leave me,'" Hinton, 18, recalled. "I was faster than him, but I stayed with him to keep him going."

About a dozen football players from Friendship Collegiate Academy, Meadow's alma mater, attended the vigil, including some who were still in their uniforms. One player who is wearing No. 57, Meadow's former number, said he would wear it in honor of Meadow. Another player dedicated the upcoming season to Meadow.

No one from Morgan State could attend the vigil as the team traveled to Ypsilanti, Mich., for Saturday's season opener at Eastern Michigan. But the team pledged to wear a decal on their helmets remembering Meadow, and redshirt senior quarterback Robert Council pledged that the team's play would be inspired by the memory of their teammate.

"We're talking about our brother," he said on Tuesday. "So we want to do anything and everything to show his family how important he was to us."

edward.lee@baltsun.com

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