Remembering ‘DaeDae’: Eastside pays tribute to fallen football player – ESPN 98.1 FM

A crowd of about 500 people descended on the auditorium at Eastside High School on Saturday to honor the life of Dabien White. White, better known as “DaeDae”, was an offensive lineman on the Eastside football team. White, 17, died early in the morning of September 4. The cause of death was not listed in White’s obituary.

celebration of life

After White’s death, Eastside students decided to create a petition asking for a ceremony to honor their beloved teammate and friend. The efforts paid off as the school held a beautiful ceremony that showcased a great amount of love and support. OFamily, friends, teammates, coaches and hite staff all came together to mourn the loss and celebrate DaeDae’s life.

Members of the Eastside High School football team pay their respects to their deceased teammate Dabien White. (Photograph provided by Phillip & Sons The Funeral Directors, Inc.)

In the front left corner of a crowded high school auditorium sat the Rams football team. The players were dressed in orange and white jerseys to honor their deceased teammate.

Also, in front of the first row of seats was White’s coffin, painted in school colors. On either side of the coffin were large bouquets of roses surrounded by an arrangement of balloons writing the number 55.

To the right sat White’s helmet and football shirt. A glass display case displayed the white jersey with the orange number 55 written across the front. Rams head football coach Harold “Gator” Hoskins rose from his seat to present the jersey to White’s family.

“He’s the only player who’s ever worn that jersey,” Hoskins shared with the family. “It’s your jersey.”

Dabien White’s jersey on display at his celebration of life on September 17, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Phillip & Sons Funeral Directors, Inc.)

For DaeDae

Eastside took the field for their first full game without DaeDae on Friday. The Rams picked up their first loss of the season against the Bradford Tornadoes.

“We can’t replace him,” Hoskins said. “We will honor him every day that we live. Every day, every game. We’ll be dedicating the rest of this season to DaeDae.

Christopher Stokes, a bishop at the New Beginning Christian Worship Center, counseled the team at the ceremony on how they can continue to honor their beloved teammate. Stokes told the team to work harder in all aspects of their lives, both on and off the pitch.

Eastside High School football honors Dabien White. (Photographs courtesy of @shotxcoach via Instagram.)

A last goodbye

Kane Smith, a friend of White’s since elementary school who also played basketball with him, had the following to say about Saturday’s events.

The ceremony boiled my emotions,” Smith said. “It just shows that you should love and cherish the time spent with your family while they are here. This upcoming football and basketball season is dedicated to DaeDae.

Dabien White’s coffin was taken out of the auditorium at the end of the ceremony. (Photograph provided by Phillip & Sons Funeral Directors, Inc.)

Eiress McCallum, a cousin of White, said the ceremony was like “a date later” from us to him.

“DaeDae had this way of grabbing people’s hearts,” McCallum said. “[He] was that friend who would always make you laugh no matter what. He will laugh with you and be by your side through it all.

A gentle giant

Friends and family have described White as a “gentle giant” for his loving character.

“Dabien was a gentle giant,” said Miracle Bristol, a classmate and friend of White’s. He always made sure you were ok, put a smile on your face and checked that you were ok. He knew everything and everyone.

A cardboard cutout of Dabien White sits outside the ceremony next to his casket. (Photograph provided by Phillip & Sons Funeral Directors, Inc.)

Dedication to the game

While White was adored off the pitch, he was also known for the outstanding performance he brought to the game, as well as the impact he had on his teammates.

“He never criticized his teammates,” Smith said. He always bred them and wanted to make the most of them. Dabien was a comedian, a family man and a hard worker. He just wanted to make his mother and his family proud.

Johnson also talked about what kind of teammate White was.

“DaeDae was always motivating, but he was also there to cheer us up if we had bad practice,” he said. “He was a very trustworthy person that you could talk to and don’t care about any judgement.”

Pictured (L-R): Antoneo Wilson, Caleb Dressel, Dabien White and Holden Johnson take to the field to open the Eastside football season at PK Yonge on August 26, 2022. (Photo courtesy of @shotxcoach via Instagram .)

forever 55

While White no longer wanders the halls of Eastside High School or dresses to take on Citizens Field with his teammates, he will always live on in the hearts of those who knew him.

“Although he’s not with us in physical form, he’s with us, telling us to get up and get back to it,” McCallum said. “We have to fight for him, as he would like. I have no words to fully express how much I love Dabien, but I love him deeply. He was an incredible soul and will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

Bristol added: “It’s forever 55.”

Edited by Dabien White by Ellie Shreve. (Photographs used were provided by Phillip & Sons Funeral Directors, Inc. and @shotxcoach via Instagram.)

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