'Football was his favorite thing ever': Evans HS honors teen killed in fireworks accident

Friday, September 6, 2019
News 12 at 11 o'clock

EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Evans High School honored a 14-year-old who lost his life in a fireworks accident before their game on Friday night.

The school gave a touching tribute to Brantley Griffin, who would've been a freshman football player this season, before Evans took on Academy of Richmond County.

Griffin suffered a head injury after jumping into the water when fireworks started going off all at once on a dock on July 5.

His family says football was his favorite thing ever, but Griffin never got the chance to put on his number five and take the field with the high school team.

To honor him, the school painted his initials on the field. Evans Middle School will also retire his number, and his family was given a framed jersey and helmet.

"It sends chills," said Matt Griffin, Brantley's dad. "It really does because that boy all he wanted to do is hear his name called over that intercom."

Brantley got that wish and more on Friday night. His family hopes his initials on the field are a constant reminder of who Brantley was.

"We want them to think of being positive, being kind and just doing right," his dad said.

That's how his friends will remember him.

"He was just the kind of kid that any time you were down, that he would just make you end up with a smile on your face." said Hunter Thompson, a teammate and friend.

Teammates and the community did the same by standing with his family during their tough time.

"We thank everybody from the bottom of our hearts," Griffin said. "That keeps us going. We feel like we need to carry on the kindness and pass it along."

As his kindness lives on, Brantley's number five does too. Each time Evans receiver Justin Hillman makes a big play this season, the PA announcer will announce Brantley's name instead.

"Just to hear his name called out over that intercom," Griffin said. "I know he's here. He's walking around. He's on that field."

Griffin took his son's place and led the team on the field--allowing his son to take the field one more time.

Evans High School will hang a banner by the field this season honoring Brantley. This whole season is dedicated to him.

The family says their faith and the community is getting them through this.