Students, coaches remember White Knoll athlete following death

Published: Jan. 18, 2017 at 5:10 AM EST|Updated: Oct. 20, 2017 at 12:11 PM EDT
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(Source: Lexington County School District One)
(Source: Lexington County School District One)

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The news of White Knoll baseball standout Brett Williams' passing sent shock waves through the Timberwolves' student body and beyond Tuesday.

Williams, 16, died of what Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher believed to be "complications related to a recent illness." Losing one of their own was a tough pill to swallow for the White Knoll basketball teams, who traveled to Lexington High to take on the Wildcats with heavy hearts.

"Anytime you face adversity like that, it just kind of puts things in perspective about what we're really playing and, essentially, we're playing a game and these kids are enjoying it," said White Knoll boys' basketball coach Devin Liferidge. "So, hopefully, we can block all of that out but it's tough."

Students also made the trip to see the Timberwolves face Lexington. While they cheered for their teams, their thoughts and prayers were with those closest to Williams.

RELATED: See photos of Brett Williams.

"Today has been really hard," said Tommy Taylor. "We're just kind of still in disbelief. It hit really hard once I got the news. It was pretty bad. It was kind of like a train just hit you. We were best friends. We talked a lot. We did a lot of things together. He helped me in the weight room and on the field and even in the classroom. He's a great kid and it's just hard to lose somebody like that. It doesn't make any sense, but God's got a plan. We'll just see how it works out."

Williams recently committed to play for the Gamecocks baseball team, but his untimely death also shocked members of the USC community including head coach Chad Holbrook.

Williams also joined the Bodyshop Athletics travel baseball team this past year. Friends and coaches say that, since he joined, he was making quite the impact on the team by using his skills to connect with others.

"Everybody loved him and he was a great ball player, but he loved the Lord," said Williams' longtime friend Simms Owens. "He wanted the best for everybody. Even though he was one of the best players on the team, he wanted the best for you. I mean, I know he loved me and I know he loved the guys he played with."

Bodyshop Baseball found Corey Warner echoed those sentiments calling Williams both a great player and a great kid off the field.

"This kid was solid all the way through," Warner said. I remember sitting there at breakfast talking with him last week and saying, 'Well, why do you want to go to USC?' and he says, 'Because I feel like I can impact more people there.'"

For White Knoll head baseball coach Charles Assey, learning of Williams' death was tough to digest.

"It hurts," he said. "It hurts. There were several times I've kind of broke down and lost it. I mean, the kid just committed to Carolina a week and a half ago. It just seems like it was yesterday that he called me and said, 'Coach, is there any reason why I can't commit to Carolina?' and I said, 'Brett, absolutely not. If you want to do it, then call Coach (Jerry) Meyers and let him know right now and he was just tickled pink and excited."

To pay tribute to his longtime friend, Owens plans to wear Williams' jersey when the team returns to action on the diamond later this year.

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