There's a lot of emotion in athletics, but nothing compares to that which you see when the young die.
I don't remember how old Keffer McGee was when he drowned in 1997, but he was way too young and most likely had a brilliant career ahead of him as a running back at Mississippi State. There was great anticipation that season for his return from an ACL tear.
I remember Jackie Sherrill crying through a news conference about the drowning.
McGee's old high school gym was packed for his funeral on a hot August day. There was a quiet stillness as MSU players and coaches filed in together as McGee was honored just yards away from his old high school football field.
In the days before everything was done on the internet I had to hustle back to Tupelo to write when the funeral was over. I moved quickly outside the gym through a dusty parking area, trying to be respectful of mourners and stay out of the way while getting on the road.
By that time McGee's death was no longer news. A lot of emotion had already been spent, and the story was more about setting the scene at the funeral, one final tribute to Keffer McGee. It was not an easy story to write.