White Knoll, SC (Paul Kirby) – The White Knoll / Red Bank area of Lexington County was joined in mourning by many others across the Midlands after 16-year-old Brett Williams, a popular student - athlete at White Knoll High School, passed away Tuesday after suffering complications from a recent illness. He was at Palmetto Richland Hospital in Columbia when he died.
The news of his passing disseminated across the area through social media, the internet, and from student to student in person and electronically like a black cloud that brought with it pain and absolute disbelief.
Many of his friends and fellow students expressed their feelings across Facebook, Twitter, and other on-line platforms popular with teens, sharing their memories and love for a young man that was struck down in his prime. Young people and adults alike said they were in shock and disbelief that Williams, who was known for his outstanding athletic ability, could be taken so quickly by anything.
Williams was a phenomenal baseball player who had recently announced his intentions to play for the USC Gamecocks baseball program once he graduated. His older brother Wesley currently is a member of the baseball team at Winthrop University. The brothers both had a deep love of the game and were fixtures on the diamond as they grew up.
Students from White Knoll High and across the area gathered at the gymnasium at Lexington High School Tuesday night for the scheduled White Knoll vs. Lexington basketball game. Many wore shirts emblazoned with # 22, the number that Williams wore while playing for White Knoll. The students were drawn together by a need to mourn and remember Williams. Many said they just needed to be with their friends and other students in this time of tragedy.
USC’s coach Chad Holbrook posted, “Go rest #22” on his Twitter account and later posted, “2day our community lost a great kid, a great son, a great teammate, and a ‘coaches dream’. Our heart aches 4 Williams family. God Bless them!” He also released a statement to the media that read, "Brett Williams was a special kid. He had all the traits coaches love to have on their teams. He had great character, a tireless work ethic, and an incredible personality that we were all drawn to. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his beautiful family and everyone in the Lexington and White Knoll community. #22 will be deeply missed."
Lexington School District One has said that they will have specially trained grief counselors at the school in the coming days to help students and the faculty deal with their feelings after the sudden loss. You can find out more information about how to help children and teens deal with a death at http://kidshealth.org/en/parents/death.html.
Funeral plans have not been announced.