D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The memorial service began as the hushed voice of Pastor Jeremy Ulmer echoed around the D'Iberville High School Gym. "Heavenly Father, we invite your presence among us tonight as a community, as team mates, as coaches, as friends, as family, as sisters, as mothers, as fathers," prayed Ulmer.
In front of him, a full house sat with heads bowed. From Bay St. Louis, to D'Iberville, they came. Black, white, young and old, they all came to grieve a life taken far too soon.
"It's very comforting to my heart to know that he touched so many lives in the community," said Angela Dunbar, mother of the late Fred Dunbar.
D'Iberville teen Latrell Dunbar died of heart complications after collapsing during a football game. Affectionately known as Fred to friends, he is remembered for the eternal smile on his face, and the spirit he brought to everything. "He was a blessing not only to us but to all the people who met him. We are going to miss him, but we know God has another angel in heaven," said Fred's uncle Marvin Parks.
"He was a gift from God, and he was given to me on borrow, and God just took him back," sobbed Fred's mother.
More than 2,000 people filled the school gym to show their support for Fred's family and team. "This is truly a gift from God, and all the blessing pour from God, and to see this out pouring of community to the school," said Fred's grandmother Ann Williams. "You know the good thing and the best thing about it is, it's bringing everybody together."
When the sun set, students gathered at the football stadium and lit candles to show that Fred's memory units them all.
"I learned so much about him, as a young man and as an athlete. So, it's very, very, very touching to know that I have a new extended family," said Dunbar.
From the pain felt by those who gathered, there comes a strong lesson. "If you have a son, love him as much as you can. Build the relationship every day. Never take a loved one for granted because tomorrow's not promised to you," said Dunbar.