Community gathers to celebrate life of former NHS player

Published 12:03 am Saturday, February 7, 2015

Connie White, center right, sits wither her children, from left, Chadrick Woods, Chelsea Washington and Chelsea Woods during a vigil for White’s son, Travis Woods, at the Natchez High School football field Friday. Woods, a 2009 Natchez High School graduate, was killed early Sunday morning outside a club in Lorman. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Connie White, center right, sits wither her children, from left, Chadrick Woods, Chelsea Washington and Chelsea Woods during a vigil for White’s son, Travis Woods, at the Natchez High School football field Friday. Woods, a 2009 Natchez High School graduate, was killed early Sunday morning outside a club in Lorman. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

As different colored balloons filled the sky above Tom F. Williams Stadium at Natchez High School, family, friends and members of Natchez High School remembered the life of Travis Woods.

The balloons floating above signified love, friendship and gun violence for Woods, who died Sunday morning after being shot outside of a club. At a candlelight vigil Friday night, Woods’ family mourned the loss of the 2009 Natchez High School graduate, as those gathered shared old stories of Woods and drew laughs and smiles from the hundreds of people in attendance.

“I was over there laughing,” Ashton Davis said, who was Woods’ fiancée. “During the whole week, I’ve been in tears, but with all of the good memories people talked about, I was definitely having a good time tonight.”

Members of the Jackson State football team were in attendance and presented the family with a jersey and signed football. Woods played for Jackson State and started at defensive back in 2013. Following a performance from the Natchez High School band, Natchez High School athletic secretary Beatrice Collins and former Natchez High School coaches presented Woods’ mother Connie White a retired No. 28 jersey. Natchez High also retired a track jersey in his honor.

“It’s still hard because Travis is gone,” said White, still mourning the loss of her son. “He didn’t drink or smoke. He just loved sports and was a great kid.”

One of his former coaches in attendance, Dewayne Taylor said he played flag football with Woods two weeks ago, and had an hour and a half conversation with Woods and his friends after the game.

“When certain things happen to certain kids, you’re like, ‘that kid is on the wrong path and I wish there was something we could have done to help him,’ but (Travis) was the type that helped those kids,” Taylor said. “When people say he was a good person, that’s an understatement.”

At the memorial, former Natchez football head coach Lance Reed talked about the work ethic of Woods, but also acknowledged a growing problem in the country — gun violence.

“This whole community had been touched by this issue,” Reed said. “We see it going on all over the country, but this one hit home. We can’t keep letting things like this happen.”

The topic was a reoccurring theme all night, as community members urged those in attendance to make a change in the community.

Woods’ first cousin, Travis Washington, was trying to cope with the fact that he would no longer see a man he called his brother.

“This is unbearable,” Washington said. “He was one of the best. If he could help you out, he would help you out.”

White, who had the toughest week of her life, said it meant a lot to her to see the community rally around her son, saying it showed how much people really loved him.

“People I don’t even know, so many, have been calling and texting,” White said. “Everybody tells me how much they miss him and how much they loved him.”