Slain Vacaville Student-Athlete Honored in Emotional Football Game

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"Demetrious Ward's passion both on and off the field transcends the life he lead," the announcer’s voice boomed through the speakers.

Demetrious Ward's teammates did what they could to comfort his grieving family before Friday night's game.

"You'll be forever loved, missed and treasured, Demetrious," the speakers blared.

They carried his picture and jersey on to the field, and every player had his number, 21, on the back of their helmets.

"He's up there smiling right now. He loves it because there's not one person in this stadium that he didn't touch, including over on Rodriguez side. He played with some of them in youth football," Joel Dunn, Ward’s uncle, told FOX40.

Dunn remembers the minute he heard about his nephew's death as one of the worst moments in his life.

"'Is it true about Demetrious?' And I was like ‘What happened?’ So I went over to his dad's Facebook page and my heart dropped. I was like, 'no'," Dunn said.

Monday, Ward was found shot inside his pickup at the Canyon Creek Apartments. He was taken to the hospital, but died in surgery.

His family says officers have identified suspects, but the Vacaville Police Department has made no arrests.

"Demetrious was just a shining light, and this is all Demetrious tonight," Ward’s aunt Carmen said.

It's also been a tough week for Ward's fellow Bulldogs. Varsity coach Mike Papadopoulos says his absence is felt throughout the team.

"It's a tough life lesson that our kids have had to learn earlier than they really should: the loss of a love one. He's really close. He's dear to our community and to our school," Papadopoulos said.

But Papadopoulos says his team knows focusing on a game win, and not their loss is what ward would have wanted.

"To have to deal with something difficult and to have to continue to do the things you know you have to do, that balance has been really tough. He was a great kid and a great teammate," Papadopoulos said.

"We'll miss him, but he'll live on in our hearts," said Carmen.

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