Football players escort fallen teammate to field one last time - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Football players escort fallen teammate to field one last time

(Source: Coffee Co. Georgia Police Scanner) (Source: Coffee Co. Georgia Police Scanner)

(WSB/CNN Newsource) - It was his dying wish and his teammates made it happen.

Eighteen-year-old Malik Sparkman lost his fight against kidney cancer last week. But before the south Georgia teen died he said he wanted to go through the tunnel at Coffee County High School, into the stadium with his teammates one final time.

So his teammates carried his coffin across the field to the end zone. The touching story has already reached millions of people on social media.

More than 500 friends and family members showed up to say goodbye to Malik.

According to the Coffee County Police Scanner Facebook page, where photos of the tribute originated, teammates held their heads high until a video of their friend played, then they could not hold back their tears.

The standout linebacker for the Coffee County Trojans was diagnosed with kidney cancer last year.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Channel 2's Jovita Moore spoke with Malik's girlfriend about his tough fight.

"He always said he wasn't ever gonna give up and God has him,” said Tia Williams. “He was a fighter."

See Malik and Tia's first date Williams told Moore on Channel 2 Action News at 5 p.m. that she first met Malik in sixth grade. She said he had a strong support system around him, from the school, the community and his fellow football players.

"They're hanging in there as a team. It brought their team closer. They're strong,” Williams said. “They did take it hard at the funeral, but they know he's not suffering anymore."

Williams also says the last few days have been hard, but that Malik is now in a better place and free from pain.

Malik had the sickle cell trait which has been linked to Renal Medullary Carcinoma. When diagnosed, it is normally in the late stages, Williams said.

"I know he's proud of me,” she said. “I've got a great angel watching over me."

Photos of Malik with Tia and friendsInterview with Tia WilliamsFull video of the team's tribute Sparkman would have graduated next year and was already being recruited by Florida State.

The Coffee County High School football team says it is planning a way to honor their teammate during next football season.

Jovita shared this story on her Facebook page and more than 10 million people have seen it. We invite you to leave your messages of support for Malik and the team.

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