BALTIMORE — Elijah Gorham was a dedicated athlete, a college-bound senior and an aspiring photographer.
Mervo High School’s head football coach says the wide receiver was a bright spot on their team whose spirit outshined the yellow jersey on his back.
Elijah had two touchdowns on the season and was going for his third when tragedy struck.
Coach tells us it was the character behind the #7 that stood out the most leaving a void that almost every student here at Mervo High can feel.
“It looked like a very routine football play. It looked like a very routine football play,” said Coach Patrick Nixon, Elijah’s head football coach at Mervo.
Coach Nixon still feels the shocking impact of what looked like an ordinary play for Elijah.
"If that was the situation where the contact of him landing on the ground was the actual cause of death. We're just dumbfounded, almost unbelievable, almost too hard to believe,” he said.
It was hard to believe what happened, harder still to believe who it happened to.
Coach Nixon says Elijah was quick, driven, strong with the highlights to back it up.
He tells WMAR-2 News the senior played with his heart, leaving it all out on the field every night, including that September night Mervo played Dunbar.
Elijah was a celebrated student-athlete but was much more than that.
“I could just always...Elijah was consistent. Elijah would be the first to run up to me and literally genuinely say 'coach how are you doing? how was your day? You okay? You’re good?' He would ask that everyday and he was genuine,” said Coach Nixon.
The student was developing his own passion and path forward.
"I know he had a lot of endeavors he was working on. he was training himself to become a photographer so he was gaining himself some attention during the pandemic just a well-rounded young man,” he continued.
Nixon says #7 was brought up the right way, crediting his mother for the son she raised and the strength she’s displaying after his sudden loss.
“Mom has been nothing but amazing. the absolute definition of a strong black woman, god-fearing woman who stayed more positive than those around her. I found her hugging people and asking other people if they're okay,” Coach remembered.
Staff, students and athletes are planning to celebrate Elijah’s life at Mervo High with a candle light vigil on Thursday at 7 p.m.