ST. LOUIS — Vashon High School's former head football coach beams with joy when he remembers one of his star players: Derrick Mitchell, Jr.
"He was a phenomenal athlete. Once he figured out football was his calling, he worked so hard. He just worked a lot on his own, developing his skill and everything," said Reginald Ferguson.
Derrick Mitchell Jr. played football and basketball at Vashon. He also ran track.
Mitchell graduated from Vashon in 2013.
He went on to play for the University of Iowa where he also shined on the Hawkeye field for three years.
Most recently, the 24-year-old Mitchell worked as an assistant football coach at Clyde C. Miller Academy in North St. Louis.
"He just worked so hard as a player, a coach and as a mentor to students," said Reginald Ferguson.
Now, shock and sadness.
Friday morning Derrick suffered critical injuries during a car crash near North Broadway and Christian Avenue in St. Louis. He was in the hospital ever since.
Tuesday, Mitchell died, leaving behind a 2-year-old son.
"I know his dad personally and so it's just a hard thing for all of us. We know with God, we'll get through it. One day at a time," said Reginald Ferguson.
"Very tough thing and way, way too soon for something like that to happen, so our condolences are with his entire family," said Kirk Ferentz, the Head Football Coach at the University of Iowa.