Remembering football player Coty Bluford and his gift of life
LENOIR CITY (WATE) - Coty Bluford would have been a senior this year at Lenoir City High School, most likely still playing football, one of the sports he loved.
His teammates gathered after school Friday to remember their friend, who died in a freak gym class accident his freshman year. They also celebrated his life, and the amazing gift he gave to others after his death.
As 500 balloons in Lenoir City High School colors floated upward, there were many tears among Coty's family and friends, but also a lot of good memories.
"Coty was just an outstanding young man, even though he was my son. Very outgoing, always had a smile, always wanting to help," said his mother Lisa Harvey.
Coty was playing flag football during P.E. in May of 2008 three days before his 15th birthday when he died after colliding head-on with his good friend Evan Needham.
"Coty was a great guy. I went through playing little league football with him back when I started. He impacted pretty much everybody. He was just a great guy overall," Needham said.
The grief of that loss is still hard to bear.
"I have pretty good friends and a strong family and they just kind of helped me through it. The Blufords have helped too. We've kind of had each other's back," Needham said.
Also providing comfort to Coty's loved ones is his family's decision to donate his organs and save the lives of five strangers.
"Coty's life needed to go on and by donating his organs I knew that would happen," Harvey said.
It's a decision everyone is sure Coty would have supported.
"He was that good of a person. He would want to help as many people as possible," Needham said.
Lenoir City High School planted a tree in memory of Coty. The football team also dedicated Friday night's football game in his honor.
Coty's family and friends urge everyone to make the decision to become an organ donor and have the chance to save lives. You can register when you apply for or renew your driver's license.