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St. Frances Academy Coach & Teammates Remember Lamar Patterson's Legacy

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Lamar Patterson was on his way to St. Frances Academy, where he was a standout student-athlete, the morning of Feb. 2 when a collision with a light rail train took his life, just a month before his 18th birthday.

The sudden loss of such a promising individual devastated his family and everyone who had come to know Patterson. It took his teammates and coaches at St. Frances by surprise, and they're still trying to fill the void he left behind.

It was a major blow to Dashawn Womack, a defensive lineman for St. Frances, who had always known Patterson to let friends and loved ones know where he was, and that he had gotten home safe and sound.

"He had came up to me and he was like, 'Alright bro, I'm gone. I'll hit you up when I get in the crib,'" Womack said. "And he hit (me up) when he got in there because he was always gonna tell you when he got somewhere safe."

Messay Hailemariam, the head football coach for St. Frances, hadn't fully processed the loss when he got in touch with Patterson's mother, Maxine, to deliver the news that no parent ever wants to receive.

"I just lost it," Hailemariam told WJZ's Nicole Baker.

But, he said, Patterson's mother gave him strength in that moment. As did Patterson's 22 angels.

"He passed on 2-2-22," Hailemariam said. "Then the night before, he actually got his 22nd offer to go to college for free."

His coach said Patterson had sent an inspirational text to his team at 2:11 a.m. that day.

"And it was 2:11, which adds up to 22," Hailemariam said. "He wore No. 22 in the (team) photo shoot," even though he wasn't the number he wore on the field.

Hailemariam said Patterson had recently gotten a tattoo on his forearm that depicted a stairway to heaven. He said it was in memory of Patterson's fallen brother, who had passed away in spring 2021.

"He's the kid that you want your son to be friends with and your daughter to marry," the coach said.

If you ask Coach Hailemariam, he'll tell you it's a God thing.

"Little did I know that 10 years ago, he (God) was going to bring me to a place that he was preparing me for to again fulfill my purpose," Hailemariam said.

There's one thing about purpose, it positions you for your divine assignment, the coach said. For him, it was a football game in Florida that gave him a son he never had.

Under Hailemariam's coaching, the St. Frances football program has gone from an underdog to a force to be reckoned with. The program attracts some of the best student-athletes in the world, Patterson included.

"I met (him) actually in seventh grade, coaching an all-star game, the Under Armour game," Hailemariam recalled. "He was in the stands and he approached me. ... And his first thing is, 'So I just want to let you know that I'm gonna be at St. Frances.'"

St. Frances is where Patterson spent the last three years, training for college and pursuing his dream of one day playing in the NFL.

"He'd be the first one to get to the top of the hill and he'd turn around, 'I'm finna make this city mine. I'ma own this city. Florida boy from the crib.' That's how he'd quote it. 'Coming to Baltimore, making it mine," the coach said.

For Patterson's friends, like Womack, his memory won't soon be forgotten.

"I'ma always rep his name in any and everything I do," Womack said. "I'm just gonna make sure that everyone knows that yeah, that was my brother."

The same goes for Hailemariam, who can't help but find himself waiting for Patterson to show up at times.

"You know, sometimes I hope he walks through the door, or he's on the field."

Patterson's family released the following statement to WJZ:

We would like to take this moment to thank everyone for the overwhelmingly amount of love and support that we have and continue to receive for Lamar. Lamar was not only a star athlete but a highly intelligent, respectful, and charismatic young man whom many loved and adored. Lamar Patterson was a young star athlete from Kissimmee, FL that was passionate about football. His work ethic and dedication in perfecting his craft led him to St. Francis Academy in Baltimore where his talents shined. 

The impact Lamar had on so many lives was initiated by the courage his mother had to allow him to spread his wings. As a family, we will continue to love and honor Lamar and keep his legacy alive. Although the flesh is no longer present with us, Lamar's spirit will forever remain in our hearts. We ask for continued prayers for us, his family, and friends as we endure this difficult time. 

Live like Lamar…..Believe It, Go For It, Do It! 

#Certified #BigMoves

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