Malcolm Pittman thought he had food poisoning, and he remained ill for two weeks, his mother said. But when he stopped responding to calls and text messages earlier this month, his family grew concerned, and he was later found dead inside his Accokeek home, his mother, Eva Pittman-Kilpatrick, said.
She said her 56-year-old son tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“He was a good, kind, and always smiling person. He loved people," Ms. Pittman-Kilpatrick said Tuesday, a day after she buried her son.
Prince George’s, where Pittman lived most recently, has been the hardest-hit county in Maryland, with more than 4,100 confirmed cases and more than 140 deaths as of April 23, according to state health department figures. COVID-19 has affected African American residents more heavily, making up more than 5,800 of the state’s nearly 16,000 cases.
Ms. Pittman-Kilpatrick, who is 86 and lives in Baltimore, said she last spoke to her son over the phone April 1. Two days later, on April 3, she said a police officer came to her door to break the news.
"I knew it was bad,” she said.
“But God is good still," she said, adding she is thankful for time spent with her son.
Mr. Pittman was born to Ms. Pittman-Kilpatrick and Louis Pittman and was raised in the Northeast Baltimore neighborhood of Northwood.
As a youth, his first passion was track and field, said Guy Goodwin, who grew up with Mr. Pittman.
Mr. Goodwin said he and Mr. Pittman spent a lot of time at the Cecil-Kirk Recreation Center in East Baltimore. They were also members of the Baltimore Ed Waters Track and Field Alliance Club.
But Mr. Pittman also showed early promise in football.
"He was outstanding in football,” Mr. Goodwin said.
He later played football at the McDonogh School in Owings Mills, where he graduated in 1981.
Mr. Pittman received a football scholarship from the University of Virginia and went on to rank second in school history and 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference in kick-return yardage, according to a family obituary.
Ms. Pittman-Kilpatrick said she was extremely proud of her son and his accomplishments, though she acknowledged that she didn’t follow sports as closely as her son did.
“I was there for all his games,” his mother said.
In a 2015 Facebook post wishing his mother a happy birthday, Mr. Pittman wrote: “When I came on the field I could always locate you amongst 70-80,000 other fans, You were always there although you didn’t completely understand the game. Your outlook on education lead me to two of the finest academic institutions in America albeit for athletic reasons."
Mr. Pittman earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and graduated in 1986, according to a family obituary.
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After college, Mr. Pittman met and married Michelle Long, and they had one son, Martin J. Pittman, the obituary said. The couple later divorced, his mother said.
Mr. Pittman’s passion for sports continued his entire life, his mother said. Mr. Pittman coached football, basketball, and track and field at the St. Albans School in Washington, D.C., for nearly 20 years.
“All the years that we coached together, whether it was in season or off season, I could always rely on Malcolm," Doug Boswell, St. Albans’ former assistant athletic director and head football and track coach, said in a statement.
"Both St. Albans and I will surely miss his friendship, his enthusiasm, his infectious smile, and his distinctive raspy voice. Coach Pittman’s strongest qualities were his love for the kids, his passion for the sports he coached, and the loyalty he had to St. Albans, to the kids, and to his colleagues.”
Mr. Pittman played tag football as an adult, and in January attended a tournament in Florida, his mother said.
In addition to coaching, he was a customer service specialist in the entertainment industry, and worked in sales at a nonprofit and in event management, the obituary said.
In addition to his mother and son, Mr. Pittman is survived by a brother, Steve Pittman; sisters Kenya and Keiona Pittman; and other family members.