Millington showed solidarity on Wednesday, as city employees put together black and gold ribbons to hang on city buildings after the sudden death of Millington Central High wide receiver Dana Payne.
"I want them to know we're here and we're caring and crying too," said Mayor Linda Carter.
Carter has been in contact with Payne's family offering them any city facility of their choosing to congregate and mourn the 15-year-old's death following a hit to the chest during football practice Tuesday.
"My heart went out last night immediately to the coaches, to the young man involved in that play. The grief they're going through. The guilt," said Carter.
Mayor Carter checked in at Millington Central Wednesday morning as counseling sessions were offered to football players and sports department personnel inside the schools auditorium.
"It seems like a dream to me. It doesn't seem real," said student Deterryon Hunt.
According to the Mayor, most students didn't find out about Payne's passing until they showed up to school. Some students were so upset they required medical attention. Others were picked up by their parents.
Student Barrington Harwell remembered Payne, "He was a good person, a good player. Always kept his little brothers with him."
Payne's mother Tameka Smith says he had asthma, but didn't have any other health concerns.
Family and friends gathered near Millington Central High School for a prayer vigil on Wednesday.
"I had my breakdown this morning, when I got ready to get
him up for school, I sat outside for a long time this morning, had a talk with myself," his mother says. "I'm praying and giving strength to these children, teammates, players, the friends at school, being strong for them."
Dana played in band, ranked high in ROTC, but classmates say cheering up his friends is what he did best.
Dana leaves behind his two younger brothers, and the game he loved.
Donations to the Dana Payne memorial Fund can be made at any first Tennessee bank or first south financial credit union.
The family plans to hold a candlelight vigil at their home Thursday night. Funeral arrangements have not been finalized.
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