The 21-year-old former Eagle was a third-team All-Ohioan in 2011
Anthony Harris Jr. left a lasting impression on everyone who came across the former Youngstown Christian football player.
On Monday some of those same people gathered at the school to remember him, after the tragic news of the death of he and his father, Anthony Harris Sr., struck the community Sunday night and into the next morning.
Harris Jr., 21, and his father, 48, went fishing on a pond off Miller Graber Road, just east of Newton Falls, Saturday morning and family members began to worry when they didn’t return that night.
Their fears became a reality when the body of Harris Sr. was discovered Sunday night and Harris Jr. early Monday morning.
“It’s been a very rough couple days,” said Youngstown Christian football coach Brian Marrow, the uncle of Harris Jr. “We just really love our kids and this is a difficult loss.
“Through Christ, and the strength he’s given us, is how we’ll get through this.”
Harris Jr. was a 2012 graduate of Youngstown Christian and co-captain of the Eagles football team. He shared that role with teammate and friend Anthony Abeid.
“Ant and I were really good friends,” said Abeid. “He loved just to hang out with his friends. Whether it was playing video games or grilling outside, he was with his friends. He loved being together and cheering people up like that.”
Abeid went on to play football at Saint Francis University, where he’ll be a junior in the fall, but stayed close with Harris Jr. Abeid was a first-team All-Ohio selection by The Associated Press as a defensive back his senior year at Youngstown Christian. Harris Jr. was named to the third team, but that didn’t stop the lineman from cracking jokes with his teammate.
“We both had great senior years and we were co-MVPs and every day he would come up to me and be like, ‘You know I was the better part of the MVP, right?’” Abeid recalled. “That was just his character. He always had a smile on his face — always no matter what was going on in his life, he would walk around with a smile on his face — and it really touched you.”
Harris Jr. was taking classes at Youngstown State University along with another friend and former teammate, Louis Lee. All three were members of the 2011 Eagles football team that won 10 games under Marrow.
“Anthony’s mother said it best: ‘The world lost a great asset.’ And that’s what Anthony was,” said Lee. “He was a great asset to our world and losing him — I can’t imagine being his family member, being his uncle — [Marrow] keeping strong is very inspirational for our YCS family in that sense.”
Marrow, who’s in the process of getting his football team prepared for the upcoming high school football season, received an outpouring amount of support from the community, he said. Coaches, pastors, friends, players, all expressed their sympathy for the YCS family and the overwhelming theme of their message was how proud his family should be for how great of a person Harris Jr. was.
“You know people say how good of a person someone was after they’re gone because that’s just what you do?” assistant football coach Dave Gessler said. “That’s not the case for [Anthony]. He truly was one of the best people I ever had to privilege of knowing. You won’t find a better friend or guy than Anthony.
“I mean he was just the best.”