By Derrick Mahone
North Clayton teammates Davin Redmond and Clarence Jackson created a celebration handshake they would do everytime they greeted each other.
They would do it during the season after Jackson, an all-state running back, would score, and they did it in the hallways of the College Park school.
Last week, the two would do it for the last time. On last Friday, Redmond, a former offensive lineman at the school, died mysteriously in his sleep. Redmond's mother, LaTonya Brooks, went to wake him as she was leaving for work and discovered he wasn't breathing, according to North Clayton coach Rodney Hackney.
Jackson, who is headed to Ole Miss on a football scholarship, said he is glad that he got to do his celebratory handshake with his longtime friend at least one more time.
"Man, I couldn't believe it when I got the word he was gone," Jackson said. "He was like a brother to everybody. He was just a cool, all around good person."
Torin Box, who played along side "Big Kuntry" as he was known to family and friends, on the Eagles offensive line, said the news was shocking to him.
Box received a text from another friend last Friday and thought it was a mistake.
"I was like that can't be my friend, I just didn't believe it," said Box, who is headed to N.C. State on a football scholarship.
But reality hit Box when he got to school. As he was entering his first period class, the 280-pounder was greeted at the doorway by a weeping teacher.
"I knew then that it was him," Box said. "I'm just in shock. The teacher just grabbed me and started crying."
Box and Redmond, who weighed about 250 pounds, had talked Thursday when Redmond was showing him his new tattoo. Box said Redmond was excited about getting a scholarship offer from Austin Peavy University. He was also considering Alabama State for college.
"He was an outgoing person," Box said. "He just loved to have fun."
Funeral services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. at Christian Fellowship Baptist Church in College Park. Players will wear their game jerseys.
Redmond was suppose to receive the Coach's Award, given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the field at the school's annual football banquet. The banquet has been pushed back to Friday with Brooks scheduled to receive the award on her late son's behalf at the Atlanta Airport Marriott.
"Big Kuntry was always full of energy and life," North Clayton offensive line Derrick Avery said. "He was always upbeat and encouraging others."
Box and Redmond formed an unique bond after Brooks begin serving as Box surrogate mother after his biological mother, Robin Box, died of cancer last January.
"Last January I lost my mother, and this year, I lost my good friend," Box said.
He now realizes how precious life is.
"Everyday I tell my friends that I love them," Box said.
Lately, Hackney has been thinking about his last encounter with Redmond at the school on Jan. 14. The former offensive tackle had just finish his workout in the weight room and went up to Hackney and give him a hug.
"He said he wanted to be like me when he grew up," Hackney said. "We laughed. I don't know, it was like he was telling me good-bye. He was a good kid that always kept a smile on his face."
Hackney said Redmond was a self-described momma's boy, who looked after his mother and younger sister, Anaya. But he was never ashamed to show his affection for Brooks.
"He really loved his mother," Hackney said. "He is one of the few teenagers that would give his mother a kiss in public."