“I think about her, pray before games, talk to her before the games.”
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Her name, Veronica, is tattooed on Lakewood High School cornerback Jocolbi Morgan’s arm. Her name is never far from his thoughts.
“He’s trying to loosen up,” Eula Williams, Jocolbi’s grandmother, said. “With the death of his mom, that kind of tore him apart.”
Jocolbi lost his mom, Eula lost her daughter on December 10, 2019.
“I got a phone call [from hospice] that night at 12:34 a.m. that she had passed,” Eula said. “It just tore me all to pieces.”
Veronica had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood. The family still tries to accept her death. For Jocolbi, playing his final high school season, it’s just not the same.
“She was at every game. she always bragged about me,” Jocolbi said. “She was always happy about me honestly. She always wanted me to be the best I could be. She motivated me, tell me when I did something wrong and did everything right.”
She loved Friday nights in Lakewood’s stadium watching her son play football. No matter how loud it was in the bleachers, he could always hear her on the field.
“Of course, all the time,” he said with a smile. “You know your mother’s voice. She’ll yell, ‘I love you.’ I miss that though. I honestly do. Hearing her voice in the stands gave me a different type of energy on the field.”
He wants to get that energy back, admitting he’s overthinking on the field.
“I need to learn how to use that anger and aggression towards the (opposing team’s) offense,” he said. “That’s what my coaches keep telling me. Use that anger, use that guilt. That will make you a better person. Once I learn to do that, I feel I will be unstoppable on the field.”
The Spartans have been unstoppable through the first two games this season. They’re 2-0 while out-scoring the competition 42-6.
Jocolbi is a big part of that defense and colleges are taking notice. He has an offer from FIU and has contact with several other NCAA Division-I programs.
“She’s looking down, she’s smiling,” Eula said. “She is proud of him. She’s proud of me trying to encourage him.”