HOUSTON - Family members and friends shared their heartbreak for the loss of the beloved coach.
“I was in disbelief,” says Evan Ray, former teammate, and roommate of Derwyn Lauderdale. “I called his phone about three, four times in a row.”
He, like many others, was struck by the news that his friend had been killed.
“It didn't take no time for us to become friends. He would do practical jokes and do something childish,” recalls Ray with a smile.
Lauderdale was married and according to family, the father of a six-year-old son.
He was shot and killed as kids prepared for a series of youth football games nearby.
His friends say although his life was stolen, they'll never forget who Derwyn was as on and off the field as a standout player for Southwest Baptist University.
“A leader - how he could connect with everybody and be himself and bring that great energy and that great joy,” says Ray.
After graduating, Lauderdale stayed on to coach football at SBU and was known as “Coach Loddy”.
He then took a job with Travis High School in Fort Bend ISD, tweeting his excitement before the first game of the season.
“Coaching in my First Texas high school football game tomorrow. Let’s rock!!” wrote Lauderdale on September 30.
The Travis High School principal put out a statement Saturday:
Dear Tiger Families,
I am writing with a heavy heart, after learning about the tragic and sudden death of a Travis High School staff member. According to local media reports, there was a dispute at a Rosenberg sporting complex today that led to the death of Mr. Derwyn Lauderdale, who was a first-year teacher and coach here at Travis High School. This news has shocked our THS community and has left us heartbroken for his family. While we do not have additional information to share at this time, I want to make you aware and ask you join me in keeping his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.
Please know that our THS administrative team, along with District crisis personnel, will be available to provide support to our THS community as we grieve the loss of Mr. Lauderdale. We know that students may react to loss in different ways and may not feel comfortable reaching out for help in person, and so I want to remind our entire school community about the resources available for those who need help or additional support.
Again, please join me in keeping Mr. Lauderdale’s family in your thoughts.
The sentiment echoes the feelings of those who spent years by Derwyn's side.
“You don't even have to be doing bad to want to do better after connecting with this man and seeing what he did and seeing how he came from where he came from,” says Ray. “I know it wasn't your fault that this happened, man. But you know, we miss you, bro.”