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Gateway’s Turner remembered as an ‘inspirational kid’

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While talking with Darrell Turner’s friends, teammates and coaches for Sunday’s story, they all described him as a likable teenager, a good friend and a hardworking football player. But they also talked about his sense of humor and the laughter he brought to others. In their words, here’s how they’ll remember him:

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For Gateway junior Thomas Woodson, Turner was almost like family. “He was close with my family. He was always at my house, and I was always over at his house. He was like my older brother. He took me places all the time. We went everywhere together.” Turner was someone he greatly admired. “He was always laughing and cracking jokes. He’d get serious when he needed to be serious, like on the football field, but otherwise he was a cool person to be around. He was one of those people who never complained about anything.”

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For Central Valley junior Robert Foster, Turner was a comforting figure who made him feel at home as part of Swag. “He was one of my best friends since I started (playing for) the team. He was always there for me and looked out for me.” Whenever the team traveled, Foster would ride with Gateway players Turner, Thomas Woodson, Jaylen Coleman and Jaymar Parrish in a sport utility driven by Ayo Fapohunda, the all-star team’s organizer. “(Turner) was a good dude. He was awesome. He was real loud and real funny and real cool. He was a good friend.”

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For Gateway senior Jaylen Coleman, Turner was the friend who took time to show him around when Coleman transferred this summer from Peabody to Gateway. “Darrell was an inspirational kid. He got everybody hyped on the field. He’s a role model, too. He led by example.” Mostly, though, Coleman said he’ll remember Turner for the way he could make him laugh. “He was so funny.”

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For Gateway coach Terry Smith, Turner was the ideal player. “He played every game like it was his last. I wish every kid on the team was like him.” Smith was out of the country when Turner was killed. “You get that phone call that it’s fatal and you say: ‘Oh my goodness, it just doesn’t make sense. It tears you apart.”

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For Gateway junior Jaymar Parrish, Turner had played football with him since they were very little, so a season without him seems strange. “I just try to keep my mind on football and keep my mind off of (his death). I think about the good things.” Parrish said Turner was a leader wherever he went. “He was just outgoing and funny. He always knew how to make everybody laugh and keep everybody on their feet.”

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For Swag organizer Ayo Fapohunda, Turner was one of the kids he relied upon most. “Whenever I’d plan a trip, Darrell was one of the guys I never had to worry about. If he said he was going to be there, he’d be there.” Fapohunda said Turner was one of his favorites. “He loved football. For him it wasn’t about anything other than he loved to put on the pads and play.” His death was difficult to accept. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with in my life.”

– Chris Harlan (charlan@tribweb.com)

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