SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sacramento City College’s football team played their first game Saturday since the loss of beloved teammate Justin McAllister.
McAllister collapsed at Monday’s practice and was later pronounced dead.
Saturday’s game was about more than just celebrating their win, but also remembering a life lost too soon.
“He was and always will be a panther,” said the announcer at the ceremony.
Quarterback Sean Nixon presented McAllister's family with his helmet and jersey during the memorial.
“We realized that Justin would want us to come out here and play, and play hard. We realized that his family wanted that so we just wanted to come out here and do what he would have wanted,” said Nixon.
The team beat Chabot College 50-7.
Another one of McAllister's jersey's hangs in a corner of the stadium, serving as a reminder of the gentle giant.
Normally you wouldn’t see a handshake line between two teams on the field until after a game, but Saturday was an exception as both the Chabot College and Sacramento City College teams came together to comfort each other about the loss of a teammate and friend.
“Justin is looking down on us smiling right now and we miss him a lot and we know he would want us to come out here and play hard,” said Nixon.
The memorial remains in the stadium with his initials in candles for fans, friends and family to walk past.
Earlier this week McAllister’s high school held a candlelight vigil in his honor on the Delta High School football field. His family was in attendance and his father Lloyd McAllister.
“It was such an honor to be his father and to watch him grow in these short 19 years and to touch so many people’s hearts,” said McAllister.
Sacramento City College and Delta High School football players are wearing a sticker on the back of their helmets to remember McAllister throughout the season.