Community holds vigil for teen who died football practice - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Community holds vigil for teen who died after football practice

The vigil Thursday night for Dana Payne felt more like a celebration. The vigil Thursday night for Dana Payne felt more like a celebration.
The football team huddled together before releasing gold and black balloons in the night sky in honor of their teammate Dana Payne. The football team huddled together before releasing gold and black balloons in the night sky in honor of their teammate Dana Payne.
Coach Jimmy Stewart says the accident was a wake-up call for his players to realize just how fragile life can be. Coach Jimmy Stewart says the accident was a wake-up call for his players to realize just how fragile life can be.
Payne will be laid to rest Tuesday in Millington. Payne will be laid to rest Tuesday in Millington.

(WMC-TV) – Hundreds of supporters converged on the home of a high school football player who died after taking a hit in football practice this week.

The vigil Thursday night in Northaven felt more like a celebration as people from across the community came to Dana Payne's house just three nights after he died following Millington Central football practice.

It was a celebration of life.

With candles and posters, the football team huddled together before releasing gold and black balloons in the night sky in honor of their teammate Dana Payne who died on the field before their very young eyes Tuesday night.  

Wearing her son's number 87 jersey, his mom was feeling the love, as she will Friday night when the Millington Central Trojans take the field for their season opening game against Kirby High School. Kirby's head coach said they plan to be there for their brothers on the field.

"To support Millington and Dana we will be wearing black wrist bands in honor of his life, and we will have a moment of silence at the beginning of the game," Jeremy Stewart said. 

He says the accident was a wake-up call to his players  as they realize just  how fragile life can be.  

"They have showed some concern about the kind of things that can happen when you play football, but I always tell my kids it's a really violent sport and at any time you could lose your life or be injured," he said. 

"Everybody is determined to do better just in his honor and everybody is going to go harder than they did before for him," Dana's friend Jasmine Clinton said.

In his 15 years Payne touched many lives. At the vigil were old neighbors;

"He was just a great kid."

"Dana was actually the first person who talked to me when I lived out here."

…many who respected him;

"He had goals and a vision he wanted to play football for our nation."

…and young boys that looked up to him;

"He was like my brother."

"He was a good person to me."

Dana Payne's funeral services have been released.  Visitation will be Monday from 5 until 8 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Millington.

The funeral is Tuesday at 3 p.m., also at First Baptist Church of Millington.  Burial will follow at North Ridgewood Haven Cemetery in Millington.

Copyright 2012 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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