Forest Park football program to dedicate season to late Jessteon Parks

The Forest Park High School football program is in mourning following the sudden death of senior defensive lineman Jessteon Parks. He had recently been accepted to the Air Force Academy. (Special Photo: Forest Park Athletics)

FOREST PARK — The Forest Park High School football program is in mourning following the sudden death of senior defensive lineman Jessteon Parks. Parks passed away in his sleep Sunday night.

“He brought extreme leadership to the team,” head coach Martez Edwards said. “He was the highest-ranking cadet in our ROTC, he had that military mindset and had just gotten accepted to the Air Force Academy. He was just a high-character kid who pushed his teammates to do the right thing even when nobody was watching. He was the last one to leave the locker room, made sure it was cleaned up. He was a senior but he’d come to help at the JV games without being asked. Just a high-character student-athlete.”

The football program plans to honor Parks at next Friday’s home football game against Mount Zion. Edwards also plans to retire Parks’ jersey number as long as he is at Forest Park.

“Next Friday we’ll do a balloon send-off, fold the flag for him,” Edwards said. “It’s just to honor him for what he was and what he did for the school and the program. I spoke with our players and asked them if this was you, how would want to be remembered? It made them understand what’s important in life — the dash in between when you’re born and when you go.

“We’ve dedicated the season to him. As long as I’m here at Forest Park, nobody will wear his jersey number,” he continued. “I just appreciate what he did for the program and the school. We’ve had grief counselors come in and our team has banded together. They don’t want to remove his locker, they want it to stay the way it was.”

Burial services will be held at the First Baptist Church of Forest Park on Monday at 11 a.m. Those wishing to donate to Parks’ family can do so there. The address is 639 Main Street in Forest Park.

Luke Strickland is the sports editor of the Clayton News in Jonesboro and the Henry Herald in McDonough. He went to school at the University of Georgia.

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