Natasha Moore gave a brief glance at a crowd of 500 mourning her brother in the Concord High gym and said, "I don't know how we'll get through life without that smile."
The mourners gathered Friday night to remember the smile and personality of in the Bayview district of San Francisco. After fond remembrances in the gym, the crowd filed out bearing candles, marching slowly to the football field where Blakely starred. Number 9 had dreamed of playing college football.
"He made his mom proud," said friend Oscar Hinojosa. "He made his dad proud. He made his friends proud. He made everyone proud."
Football coach Brian Hamilton said Blakely understood. When the team was running sprints to get in shape, he asked the coach, "Hey, bro, how come we run so much?"
"Because the only thing you hate more than running is losing," the coach explained.
"All right," the teenager replied. "I get it."
"He was a young man who worked so hard, he would make himself sick," Hamilton said, recalling how often Blakely would throw up in practice. "Montreal made it cool to try."
The sequence of events was sobering. Last Friday was marked by sadness over the massacre at the school in Newtown, Conn., and then on Sunday the Concord High community found out about the death of Montreal Blakely.
But there was a silver lining. "Watching teammates and friends comfort each other," said Hamilton, "it was a warm light shining on our soul."
An unidentified assailant took multiple shots at Blakely in the first block of Osceola Lane, San Francisco, around 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15. One shot struck him in the head, according to Crimevoice.com. Blakely often visited his father in the Bayview District of San Francisco.
Pastor Ray Buford of Bethel Baptist Church in Concord told the audience that Blakely is now "in the presence of the Lord." And there he is accompanied by "God's Minutemen" — to which the Concord High Minutemen teammates of Montreal, sitting en masse up front in the gym in their green game uniforms, replied in unison: "Amen."
Donations to the Blakely family can be made online or by check, which should be mailed to the following address:
- CHS Football/Montreal Blakely
- c/o Meghan Mahler
- 4271 Treat Blvd. Concord, CA 94521