DOWNEY (CBSLA.com) — The 16-year-old football player who died Saturday after collapsing on a football field two days ago, was remembered this evening as a dedicated young man and someone who was always trying to improve.
CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen attended the emotional vigil held in honor of Dodi Soza.
Scores of friends and family wore white, carried white balloons and candles in honor of the Downey team’s color.
The Downey High School Marching Band played as balloons were released into the air.
Nguyen reports that the team’s coach, Jack Williams, spoke eloquently of Soza.
“He’s just a great human being. Just the smile he brought every day. Just the hope, the dedication. He always wanted the get better — whether it’s playing cards, playing football or in the classroom,” said Williams.
Soza’s Junior Varsity teammates organized the vigil asking the community to bring white candles and balloon.
Word of the vigil spread quickly through social media.
“I found out [about the vigil] it on Instagram and everyone knew about it from there,” said student Nicole Vasquez
Even students and community members from Downey’s big cross town rival — Warren High — came to pay their respects.
“I didn’t know him personally but I heard a lot of good things from him,” said one student.
Dodi’s family attended the vigil but declined to be interviewed.
Nguyen said Soza’s father was given two footballs — one from his teammates and a second from the cheerleading squad.
“The parents were here and able to see how much he meant to everybody. Went to the hospital on Thursday, first thing out of his parents mouth was he loved football,” said the coach.
After the vigil – his teammates offered more support by collecting donations to help his family with Soza’s medical bills.