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Outpouring Of Support For St. Albans Teen Who Died Suddenly

Reported: May. 26, 2014 11:24 PM EDT
Updated: May. 27, 2014 9:20 AM EDT

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ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (Kera Mashek) -- Hundreds gathered in St.. Albans Monday night to remember 15-year-old Leland Brown II, who died suddenly from an apparent heart attack this weekend.

"You can just look in the stands and tell that he made a big impact on everyone," friend Alan Parsons said.

Crawford Field in St. Albans was filled with candlelight Monday night. On a holiday meant to remember those no longer with us, this community is saddened by the sudden death of Brown, who it's clear by the turnout, was loved by many.

"He always knew how to put a smile on your face," friend Justin Burns said.

"He affected people for the good. He never did anything wrong to anybody. It just doesn't seem fair that he's gone," friend Jacob Grigsby said.

Brown was a standout baseball player as a freshman member of the varsity team. At the field where he played many games, his jersey number 23 is outlined in chalk.

That number was also painted in the center of Crawford Field, where Brown ran plays with the Red Dragons this fall, and was affectionately nicknamed "Downtown Leland Brown." Teammates describe him as an awesome leader and friend.

"He was one of those kids you want to look up to. You want to be just like him," friend Gerardo Deleonardis said.

"There's a lot of people Leland affected in this community. He was a very good role model, and it was an honor to play with him in these short few years. I just wish I could've played with him longer, and it's just awful that he's gone now," friend John Michael McCoy said.

Coaches prayed for the family's strength during this difficult time.

"We know Leland's in the hallow of your hands, Father God," Coach Washington said.

Brown's youth pastor talked about the warmth and kindness the 15-year-old brought to everyone he knew. The pastor also revealed Brown recently became a Christian and had been baptized and left quite a legacy for this entire community.

"Leland Brown II was an incredible young man who brought joy everywhere that he went," Pastor Brad Harvey of King's River Church said.

The candlelight was passed starting with Brown's parents and then through his teammates and the entire stadium. Many gathered here said that a field full of glowing candlelight was a perfect image for Brown because he brought a lot of light to their lives.

Of course, school just let out a few days ago in Kanawha County, but teammates said when they gather at Crawford Field under the Friday night lights this fall, Brown's memory won't soon be forgotten.

"We'll never forget about Leland. He'll always be there on our minds, and we're going to play hard for him regardless," Grigsby said.

"He's going to be on our hearts. He's going to be playing with us, be out there watching us and protecting us," Deleonardis said.

Rather than flowers, Brown's family is requesting donations be made to the St. Albans High School Booster Club in his memory as a way of giving back to students and coaches that were such a big part of this teenager's life.

Calling hours for Brown will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at St. Albans High School. His funeral is set for 11 a.m. Friday at King's River Church in St. Albans.

As further evidence of the community's support, fundraisers are already coming out of the woodwork to help the Brown family. T-shirts are being sold online here.

From 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday, Fresh Seafood Market in St. Albans beside the Venture Lanes bowling alley will donate a portion of its proceeds to the family. Guests also are invited to write messages in Brown's memory on cards that will be attached to balloons released that evening.

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