At least 10 people have forwarded me the same email this week about UGA coach Mark Richt and two of the state’s elite high school football players, the UGA-bound tandem of Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell, participating in a special tribute to a Valdosta High School student who died last month. Maybe you had it sent your way or saw it somewhere posted on Facebook.
Well it turns out that this email forward (author unknown) is true, said Rome’s mother, LaVerne Rome, who is the District Parent Involvement Coordinator for Lowndes County Schools.
James Eunice, 17, drowned while duck hunting in a nearby lake on Jan. 15 and his body was found two weeks later, according to the Valdosta Daily Times. Eunice was an honors student with a 4.0 GPA and played football this past season at Valdosta High with Rome and Mitchell. His funeral was held last Saturday.
In the email forward which has been making the rounds to many inboxes, it was said that Richt sent a letter of condolence to the family which was read at the funeral by Rome. Among other things, it was said that Richt acknowledged in the letter: how he had been contacted by Eunice about his plans to “walk on” with Georgia’s football team next year — and that Eunice had been added to the roster and officially “made the team.”
Then it goes on to say that Eunice’s family was presented a Georgia No. 23 football jersey with “EUNICE” on the back of it and “those gathered at the funeral … stood, applauded and cried.”
UGA sports information director Claude Felton could not be reached for comment. However, Rome’s mother told the AJC “for the most part, [the email letter] is fairly accurate. The only thing I saw incorrect was the statement that Jay read the personal letter to the family from Mark Richt. Jay did speak, but the Pastor actually read the letter. Jay and Malcolm Mitchell presented the jersey to the family.”
You can read the rest the email forward here.
On behalf of the AJC, many thoughts and prayers to the Eunice family for their loss. I can’t imagine anything worse than the death of a child.
UPDATED: The forwarded email was copied from this Opinion column called “Winning isn’t everything” by Randy Young in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise. (Click here to read)