ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Hundreds of people filled the pews of First Baptist Church in St. Petersburg Monday to celebrate the life of Jacquez Welch. The service lasted about an hour and a half. His best friend, and two coaches spoke about and recalled memories of Welch at the podium.
Welch, 18, played with the Northeast Vikings football team. He collapsed on the field during one of the games last month.
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Doctors said he had an unknown medical condition known as AVM. His mother said he was likely born with arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal connection between arteries and veins in the brain.
Welch's family was full of emotion. At times, they hugged and held each other in the front row during the service. Reverend Benjamin Adams reminded everyone to make their load lighter and their pain less sharp with support and love and help them heal.
"We were all here together and for one purpose and that was to honor the one whom by death has left us, and to comfort one another in our pain. And I think that became a symbol for what this world should look like," said Rev. Adams.
The service included a program that said "Sports Illustrated: The Heavenly Edition" to honor his love of the game and his desire to go far in football.
"He was a good football player, but most of all he was respectable when I was not around that let me know I raised him right," said his mother, Marcia Nelson.
Pinellas County made a proclamation during the funeral, officially making October 7 the "Jacquez Welch Day."