RICHBURG — Brian Colvin grew up in a small brick house on S.C. 99, raised by a mother who worked two jobs to support him and a close-knit family bent on making sure he went to college.
With dreams of becoming a pro athlete, Colvin told relatives he might first like to go to South Carolina State University and compete for the Bulldogs.
"He was determined to play football, said Yolanda Young, a cousin and next-door neighbor. "And he left his life out there, playing."
The 18-year-old collapsed Friday night during a football scrimmage and died, just days before the start of his senior year at Lewisville High School. It was the school's second death in less than a week. Last Saturday, Catherine Elizabeth Fowler, a softball player and varsity cheerleader, died in a two-car collision near Great Falls.
A gifted three-sport athlete, Colvin was known for a shy personality and fierce desire to make his family proud. He wanted to be the first in the family to attend college, relatives said.
"He didn't worry about anyone else's mistakes," said his aunt, Tawanna Talford. "He worried about his own."
When Colvin would miss a jump shot in a basketball game, he would look up at his family in the stands, afraid he had disappointed them. Each time, they'd clap and motion for him to run back down the court.
Last spring, when juniors at Lewisville sold fruit to raise money for the school prom, Colvin didn't ask anyone to buy from him. Relatives found out he needed help and took out their checkbooks.
"He was scared people would fuss at him," Talford said.
Mom got the news at work
Friday night, the phones started ringing at the Country Omelet, a Richburg restaurant where Johnnie Mae Colvin washes dishes on the evening shift. She cleans rooms mornings at the nearby Motel 6.
Something happened to your son at the football game, people said. Colvin assumed it was a hurt ankle or pulled muscle.
Then the calls turned grim.
Colvin stood outside her home Saturday fielding phone calls, visits and hugs from loved ones. "The phone's been ringing since 7 this morning," she said.
The family has a history of heart trouble, the mother said, but she did not want to say much more.
Chester County authorities would not comment on a possible cause of death, saying they will await results of an autopsy performed Saturday.
An official said Colvin's death did not appear to be related to the heat.
Scott Hill, owner of Country Omelet for the past 21 years, said Johnnie Mae Colvin is such a dedicated employee that she called after her son's death to say she would have to miss work.
Before the school year, "she was asking me for all the hours she could get," Hill said. She had to buy supplies for Brian and her daughter Felicia, 12.
It was clear from an early age that Brian loved sports, his mother said.
At Lewisville Middle School, Brian ran on the track team and excelled in the 100-meter dash, previewing the speed he would later show on the football field.
"Fastest guy I knew," said middle school coach and math teacher Elihu Bey. "He was real quiet, humble. Just came, competed and left."
Last season, the Lewisville football team began eating pregame meals at the Country Omelet, usually a dinner of grilled chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, rolls and Gatorade.
Server Linda Hayes remembers the special relationship between Colvin and his mom. He'd call every day after school, just to let her know he was OK.
"He was a really quiet guy, but he always smiled," Hayes said.
Thumbing through family photos, relatives came across a picture of a smiling young man decked out in a white tuxedo with a royal blue vest and bow tie.
With help from his family, Colvin went to the prom last spring. He wanted everyone to see him in his outfit.
"Everybody down here was sister and brother to him," said Talford, his aunt. "That's why we're taking it so hard."
Want to help?
A Brian Colvin memorial fund has been set up through First Citizens Bank, 3551 Lancaster Highway, Richburg, S.C., 29729.
Donations can also be dropped off at Country Omelet restaurant, 3038 Lancaster Highway in Richburg.
The York Comprehensive High School has postponed its Aug. 20 season opener against Lewisville High School Lions to Sept. 24 following the death of Lewisville's Brian Colvin on Friday night.
York Comprehensive High School Steve Boyd said he spoke with Lewisville High School Athletic Director Rusty Pemberton and they agreed to reschedule the game for Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at York's new stadium. September 24 was an open date for both teams.
"They need time to grieve and to heal," Boyd said of the Lewisville football family. "I know they are devastated by this tragedy.
"It makes you realize how small the game is."
Matt Garfield 803-329-4063