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'Like losing a son': Coaches remember Demetrius Wall’Neal for being a hard worker with a lot of potential

Demetrius and his younger sister Londynn were killed in a Columbus shooting this week.

REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — Nine-year-old Demetrius Wall’Neal loved football. His coaches for the Reynoldsburg Junior Raiders say he had a lot of potential. 

They knew he dreamed of playing for Ohio State University and then the NFL, and they believed he had the focus to make it happen.

"He was always looking for his mark in life and when you see that as a coach you know that that's potential,” said Clifton Harris, one of his coaches.

But the chance for Demetrius to put in the hard work and eventually play under those lights was cut short.

His coaches said they were devastated by the news of his death.

“This hurts my heart,” said Head Coach Michael Whatley.

“It’s like losing a son right now,” said Coach Donta Greene. “To see this it’s just heartbreaking.”

“My hope and prayer is justice will be served,” said Coach Harris.

The coaches are now focused on helping his teammates heal. They have been in constant communication with them this week.

“Just talking about life and grief and how these are natural emotions and if you need help get some grief counseling,” explained Greene.

There is one thing they wish they had given him before he died: his trophy.

"We didn't get a chance to give it to him he didn't make it to the banquet,” said Harris. "We figured we'd present it here today: to a player that was full of heart full of love full of compassion, that loved the brotherhood that was full of joy that we played that we laughed we fought hard together would dig deep at the last inning and give us 100% and to an upcoming rising star, brother Demetrius. Phenomenal kid."

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