SOUTHAVEN, Miss. (WREG) — Dozens gathered at Northpoint Christian School Tuesday night in memory of professional football player Christian Saulsberry.
Saulsberry’s life was cut short at 25 years old.
The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office said he was fatally shot at a friend’s party in Walls, Mississippi. Mark McDaniel, the man accused of fatally shooting Saulsberry, has been extradited to the DeSoto County Jail.
There was no shortage of outpouring love for him and his family.
Number twos filled the inside of the gym at Northpoint as an ode to Saulsberry who wore the number proudly when he led the Trojans to the state championship in 2015.
“Now today knowing the faith Christian had, I can only see him running for the goal line in heaven,” said former coach Mark Tatko.
“In Chris last moments, I was there holding my brother, and Chris want me to let y’all know he love every single one of y’all,” said his friend John Williams.
Bleachers filled with former teammates, coaches, family and friends who came out to remember his kind spirit and passion both on and off the football field. Saulsberry’s mother and manager Melissa Smith said their support is keeping her going.
“I miss my baby,” Smith said. “We had a connection and every time I get weak, and I do get weak and you see me up here doing this right here and that’s him.”
Smith helped push her son into stardom from his time at Southaven High School to Northpoint Christian School to playing college at West Alabama.
He ultimately reached his lifelong goal of going pro, signing a multi-year deal with the Edmonton Elks in Canada this year.
For the first time in history, Northpoint retired a jersey, his iconic number two, in honor of his contributions. It’s a bittersweet joy for those promising to now finish the game and life he loved in his place.
“I know my baby is so happy right now like he won the Heisman, like he won the Super Bowl,” Smith said.
“All he wanted to do was run the football and take care of his family and it hurt so bad,” said his cousin Octavius Smith. “Everyday, we will fight for Christian making sure we keep his legacy alive.”
A GoFundMe has been created to cover Christian’s funeral expenses. The remaining funds will go to a foundation started by his mother to help players at small schools.