Candlelight vigil for Grayson Weeks draws thousandsby Andy Morales on Dec. 17, 2012, under Sports
Several thousand people gathered on the Empire football field to pay their respects to Grayson Weeks Monday night.
The starting quarterback and champion wrestler for the Ravens, Weeks passed away early the previous morning in an accident on I-10 just east of Vail. Weeks was not wearing his seat belt and was ejected from a sedan he was a passenger in after the driver drifted off the road and tried to swerve back on.
The sedan rolled and Weeks was hit by another vehicle, causing fatal injuries to the 16-year-old junior. His friend, Benson football player Austin Avila, was the driver of the sedan.
The school painted a huge number 15 at midfield to honor Weeks and I had a chance to speak to several of his friends and family members after they had a chance to listen to prayer and eulogies from coaches, teammates and clergy.
Gabby Sassone is a junior at the school and she remembered Grayson as someone who could change anyone’s mood. “He was always the friendliest guy,” she said. “He could make you feel that you were the happiest person just by being around you.”
“I found out about his death after someone posted that they loved me and to never forget that,” Sassone added. “I guess it was their way of telling me something I never got to say to Grayson. Our goodbye was today.”
His close friend Kaelyn Smith simply told us that there was “too much” to say about Grayson. “He was an amazing guy.”
His cousin and former Empire standout Mito Mendivil talked about how Grayson picked his jersey number. “I was number 5,” explained Mendivil. “He picked number 15 because he said he was one better than me…..and he was.”
Grayson’s sister Estrella is only 11 and she described her brother as being “very kind but rude at times like all brothers are” but added that she still loved him and misses him.
His grandmother Irene Medina called him the “child of her soul” while his mother Jennifer was the “child of her heart.”
In another touching moment, his grandfather Bobby Medina was unable to put in words how he felt.
Empire assistant coach Jeffries said he will never forget Grayson, “As long as there was a breath in his body.”
Grayson was on the verge of leading his team into a new era of “big school” football but he never got the chance. He ended his career as one of the best to ever play Division IV football and his mother gave me permission to name my small school player of the year award in Grayson’s honor.
With thousands attending the candlelight vigil, it was clear that Grayson touched many lives. I saw athletic directors, students and coaches from other schools and several people told me they had to attend even though they had no connection to Grayson or the school because of all the killings this past week.
Grayson’s mom pleaded with the young students in the crowd to always wear their seat belts as the memorial was about to get underway. Please, please do.
Vantage West has set up an account to help his mother Jennifer. Please contact Sherry Henry at Vantage West in Rita Ranch at 917-8996 for more information.
NOTE: Cienega standout volleyball player Stephanie Mendivil is Grayson’s cousin and Stephanie’s mother Julie Meyer-Mendivil is a a former University of Arizona basketball player.
My photos of the event are free and open to his friends and family.