A shoulder to lean on

Lions football players lift coach, record, after family tragedy

Albert Smith

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Killed in a domestic violence dispute that was displayed on Facebook Live, the tragic deaths on Feb. 7 of Merrieta Matthews and Tamiko Merriweather—the sister and niece of assistant football coach Richard Matthews—influenced the team and coaches to show respect in a distinctive way.

Mr. Lewis [safety and security supervisor] and myself had a conversation about how this ordeal would become a part of our fellowship to our young men and women,” Matthews said. “We knew that there was a message here and just wondered how and when could we tell it.” 

After considering their options, the team opted to have the helmet lettering changed from “U.C” to “T.M. and M.M.,” which are the  initials of the sister and niece of Matthews. The football  players were more than ready to support their coach in dark times.

“I thought it was pretty cool to show love to coach after all he does for us,” said Joshua Allen-Wilson, junior. “We are a close team and supporting one another is a must.” 

The gesture really touched Matthews.

“When I found out I tried to hide my tears,” said Matthews. “I posted that night, that it will always be U. City High until the day I die.”  

The deed meant so much to the Matthews family. 

“My mom has the helmet now on display,” said Matthews. “I wasn’t the only one floored by the gesture.” 

 In the alternative fall football season, the team went 2-2 with big wins against Jennings and Normandy. 

“We play hard every game but we had to play even harder when we had those initials on our helmets,” Carter Lemen, junior, said. “It’s almost like we were playing for Matthews and his family.” 

The team went 2-0 when wearing the initials of Matthew’s family. Safe to say that support and care

drives this team to new heights.