FORT STOCKTON, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – In their senior season, Isaiah Velasquez, Corbin Luna, and Johnny Brown are missing a piece of their beloved Fort Stockton Panthers football team, and hearts.
Brown added, “Having the logo and not him, that’s what I think about.”
In their eighth grade year, Luna’s, Velasquez’s, and Brown’s close friend, Donavyn Vaughn, tragically passed away after an asthma attack during a track and field practice.
Velasquez said neither of them ever believed this would happen, “You never expect it to happen to one of your friends and so when it actually happened, it hurt all of us and we didn’t know how to recover from it at such a young age.”
Now almost four years later, the Panthers football family continue to dedicate their play to someone who should be right along side them playing every snap.
“Every game we go out there, you know when we take our knee on the field, and our prayers go out to him and we’re always thinking about him,” Velasquez added. “So every thing we do is for him.”
The Panthers said Donavyn was someone special, and worth knowing.
“He was the start out of all of us,” Luna mentioned with a smile. “I mean just talking to him, just having the little moments with him, you know he always brought that good out in you.”
And not to mention he was an absolute beast at any sport he set his mind too.
Velasquez laughed, “He was good at everything and his athleticism was just like, it’s rare, you barely see that, he was good all around.”
All three of them said they see Donavyn every where on the field and have not let a day go by where they don’t think about him.
“He just runs through my mind all day,” Velasquez shrugged. “There’s not like a second I don’t think about him.”
“I mean, I get happy, always thinking of him,” Brown said. “But it’s just for me, I don’t know, just not being able to let him know how much we appreciate him, is tough, it’s really hard.”
And with it being their senior season, it already meant a lot to end their time as a Fort Stockton Panther on the best note, but now they want to make sure Donavyn knows how important he was and still is to them by dedicating their last year to him.
Luna smiled and said, “That’s the goal, we do everything for Donavyn. That’s what strive us to be better and has us three come together.”
“He would want to be doing this,” Velasquez emphasized. “Every thing we’re doing right now, he would want to do too. So, you know, we’re going to put it all out on the line and just make him proud out there.”
And Brown made sure to add their friend was remembered, “We miss him and then we do it for his family, let them know that we always will love him. And to give them that comfort that he will never be forgotten.”
And they all just hope he knows how much he is truly missed.
“I always knew he was going to be right next to us,” Luna said. “No matter the cost.”
“If we are blessed to have kids, he will be mentioned, a lot,” Brown continued. “For his heart, his hunger, and then even after he passed, you always got to love and learn.”
“I would do anything just to hear his laugh and to just have a little more time with him. It sucks, can’t have him here with me,” and emotional Velasquez.
The team choses to dedicate their play to Donavyn every week with a DV sticker on their helmet and allow Isaiah to wear Donavyn’s lucky number four in his senior year.