High School Sports

Moss Point student remembered: 'He always knew how to keep everybody laughing'

MOSS POINT HIGH SCHOOL 
 Jaqari Toney
MOSS POINT HIGH SCHOOL Jaqari Toney

Classmates and teammates always gravitated toward Moss Point senior Jaqari Toney.

"He was one of those people where if you were sad or down, he'd make you laugh," said Keshun Wells, a former Moss Point football star. "He tried to solve problems with laughter. He'd try to find the funny side of a situation."

The Moss Point community is mourning the loss of Toney, who died on Thursday. The 18-year-old was just a little more than three weeks away from taking part in graduation ceremonies with his fellow seniors on May 27.

He died of natural causes, Jackson County Coroner Vicki Broadus said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Moss Point seniors gathered in the school's media center Thursday so they could receive grief counseling. As the day wore on, students gathered in small groups to reminisce about the well-liked Toney.

In his honor, students wore clothes in his favorite color, red, to classes Friday.

"We can't believe it," said Rayshon Marcel, a junior linebacker at Moss Point. "We know it happened. We just can't believe it. It's heartbreaking. He knew everybody. He kept everybody laughing. He was a good kid. It's crazy."

Toney was a member of the Moss Point football team, spending time on both the offensive and defensive lines in his senior year. He wore No. 79 for a football program that has one of the more storied traditions on the Coast.

Moss Point coach Willie Brown, his staff and players were all struggling to deal with the loss.

"It's just not the team, it's the whole school," Brown said. "He was a well-liked kid. You can tell by the reaction of the young men and young ladies at the school. He's going to be missed."

In the classroom, Toney was a good student. He spent much of his free time playing the two sports he loved, basketball and football.

"He was laid back, cool," Marcel said. "He was funny. He always knew how to keep everybody laughing. Everybody wanted to be around him."

There was an outpouring of support for Moss Point from across the Coast on Friday.

Football players from St. Stanislaus made the trip to Moss Point to visit with Brown, and schools such as Gautier and Resurrection Catholic posted their condolences on social media.

Grieving fiends, family and classmates used Toney's Facebook page as a forum to express their grief.

He was regarded as a good teammate and the type of player coaches love to teach.

"He was a good, wholesome kid," Brown said. "He was good to be around, a fun-loving kid. He loved the game of football and also loved playing basketball. He was a good kid.

"He didn't play my first year here (as a junior). He came out in the fall determined to be a part of the team (in his senior season). We were just happy to have him around. He's going to be truly missed."

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