Several hundred mourners paid last respects to former East Central Community College football player Park Stevens who was laid to rest Saturday, July 6, 2013, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church in Columbus.
Stevens, 20, lost his life July 3 after his pickup truck collided with an 18-wheeler around 3 p.m. at the intersection of Egypt Road and Highway 45A in Chickasaw County, according to the Mississippi Highway Patrol. The driver of the 18-wheeler was uninjured, and no one else was involved in the accident.
The 6-8, 325-pound offensive lineman was a two-year standout for the EC Warriors. He had transferred to Ole Miss as a walk-on lineman.
Brian Anderson, former Warrior head football coach, said the tragic loss of the young man “full of life and spirit” as described by family and friends “has left a void in our hearts.”
“Park has left us all too soon,” said Anderson, who is now an assistant football coach at Louisville High School. “We didn’t just recruit players at East Central…we brought in people and their families. My heart is broken not only for Park’s teammates and coaches but especially his family. As a player, Park was the type to go the extra mile. He did not settle for good enough; he always wanted to be better…and do more than was expected.”
Anderson said it was “difficult circumstances” that brought out the best in Park as a player, especially in the weight room and off-season conditioning.
He added, “I have to say that my fondest recollections of Park will always be the interaction with him off the field, particularly in Scott Hall. He had an uncanny knack for making the most of any situation. His attitude was always one that the glass is half full. No matter the place or the situation, he was going to keep everyone one around him positive, upbeat and usually laughing. Park had such a magnetic personality. He didn’t meet a stranger.”
Kyle Watson, Park’s offensive line coach at EC, was among eulogizers at the funeral service and provided the following comment:
“Park’s that kid you loved to coach because he made it fun and he worked hard. He gave 100 percent all the time. He was larger than life in football and with his size and personality.”
Ole Miss head football Hugh Freeze said there “was not a single time” Park did not bring in a positive vibe with him.”
Freeze issued the following statement when hearing of the tragic accident:
“Our team is hurting with the loss of Park Stevens. He was a tremendous young man that was loved by his teammates and coaches, and the Rebel Nation will never forget him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Stevens family, his friends, our team and all those he touched during his life.”
Park was a product of New Hope High School, where he earned Max Emfinger All-American and MS/LA All-Star honors.
He was the son of Dean and Gail Stevens of Columbus.