SACRAMENTO -- Friends and family describe 28-year-old Melvin Kwaun Strong as easy going. Different. Loyal.
Strong died in the early morning hours Christmas Eve after the CHP says a suspected drunken driver ran a stop sign while evading police at 18th and I streets. Ivan Dimov, the driver suspected of killing Strong, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and manslaughter.
“Loyal, almost to a fault, in some instances where he wants to support and he wants to be there. Just loving. He had just a tremendous heart," Bethany Lutheran Principal Dr. Chris Smith said.
Smith was Strong's football coach at Vacaville Christian Academy. He said another former player shared the news with him.
"He said he had bad news. I immediately, I knew it was Kwaun," Smith said.
Smith fondly remembered the first time they met, when Strong as a middle school student, anxious to get involved in sports.
"Immediately, he came up to me and said, 'Are you the football coach? Because I’m gonna play football,'" Smith said.
Through the years Strong’s mentors watched this enthusiastic kid grow into a responsible and charismatic young man.
"Not only was he extremely athletic, he’s just a fun-loving guy," Smith said. "Big heart, always laughing, always smiling.”