During this holiday time spent with loved ones, the tragic death of an Eastern Carolina high school football player just two months ago continues to have an impact on family, teammates and coaches.
While the pain of the loss of 16-year-old Jaquan Waller from J.H. Rose is still fresh, the promising young football player's life is also serving as an inspiration.
The football team finished the season against all odds. They tell us they did it to honor the young man who gave the #23 and their lives new meaning.
Waller died in September, after two consecutive head injuries. Doctors say he died from second impact syndrome.
As they mourned, his team also had to make a decision. Could they go on with the rest of the season?
"Quan wouldn't want us to not play that next game," said Kurtiss Barnes, Waller's childhood friend and teammate. "He would want us to keep going, cause Quan was a tough dude. He wouldn't quit."
The Rose Rampants continued their season, with the #23 on their helmets. They made it to the playoffs, where they lost in the first round.
"Whatever we do is superficial compared with the family had to deal with," said JB Booth, Waller's friend and teammate. "But we're always going to remember him."
Coach Todd Lipe tells us they plan to have a permanent memorial on the field for Waller, on the scoreboard. They also plan to assign the number "23" to an outstanding member on the team each year.