Monday, April 13, 2009
This is part of an article from our local paper.
One Shoals community is remembering the life of a man who served as an example, a motivator, and an inspiration to those around him.
David Kelley coped with disabilities his whole life - hearing loss, difficulty walking, and an inability to speak. However, the handicaps never stopped him from doing what he loved.
Larry Sinyard coached the Lauderdale County High School girls basketball team for 20 years. During that time, he snagged eight state championships. Though the years passed and the players changed, one person remained constant - team manager David Kelley.
"He was a servant," says Sinyard. "He had a servant's heart."
Sinyard's relationship with Kelley went beyond coach and manager.
"It was more like father and son to me," explains Sinyard. "He taught me how to love. He had the biggest heart there ever was."
When Sinyard retired in 1999, his assistant coach Brant Lluwellyn took over. He too, formed a special bond with Kelley.
"David just had a special way of knowing what you were thinking and knowing how you felt," says Lluwellyn. "He was just special to be around."
In January 2008, Kelley was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. His sickness sidelined him from his duties as the team manager for the first time. Kelley hadn't missed a season since 1986. Actually, he only missed three games in those 22 years. Lluwellyn says this past season just wasn't the same without him.
"It was just like there was something missing," says Lluwellyn. "He was able to provide a closeness to our team that a lot of teams didn't get to experience."
On Saturday, Kelley's fight with cancer ended. He was 48-years old.
"He was just a magnet," says Karen Brown, a former basketball player and assistant coach. "Everybody loved him and loved to be around him."
Brown is one of eight former players that currently teach at the school. They describe Kelley as a positive, loving, fun, and happy person. To all of them, he was an inspiration.
"We used him countless times as an example to our kids in ways of motivation," explains Brown. "We loved him so much and he will be missed dearly."
Both coaches say that David Kelley's reach went beyond the Shoals area. Kelley traveled with the team to all the state tournaments, so even when they were out of town, people knew who he was.
Visitation for David Kelley will be on Tuesday, April 7th from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. The funeral is on Wednesday, April 8th at 1:00 p.m. Both services will be held in the gymnasium at Lauderdale County High School.