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Community mourns loss of star Roswell athlete

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Robbie Roper

Roswell quarterback Robbie Roper waits for the snap during the Hornets' Oct. 2, 2020 win over Walton.

ROSWELL, Ga. — Since the unexpected death of Roswell High School student and quarterback Robbie Roper on Dec. 22, community members have come together in their grief to remember the athlete.

Roper, 18, died after being hospitalized in Gainesville, Florida, according to family members.

Hundreds attended Roper’s funeral service at First Baptist Church in Woodstock Dec. 28 to pay their respects to the family.

During his last season as a Roswell Hornet, Roper led the team through a 10-3 season, throwing for 3,010 yards and 37 touchdowns.

Roper’s six touchdowns lead Roswell romp over South Forsyth

According to 247 Sports, a college recruitment tracking site, Roper had received four offers to play football at the college level from the University of Massachusetts, Morehead State, Morgan State and Western Carolina University.

Roper donned the team’s No. 5 jersey and since his passing, coaches, teammates and other community members have celebrated Roper’s life and showed support to family and friends on social media by changing their profile photos to a number five and using the hashtag LL5, or “Live Like 5.”

Roswell High School cornerback Ethan Nation shared his grief for his teammate on Twitter.

“Lost of words I can’t believe they took you away from us this soon,” Nation wrote on Twitter. “I love you Robbie thank you for everything #LL5.”

Principal Robert Shaw and head football coach Chris Prewett also took to Twitter.

“My heart just breaks for the family of [Robbie Roper],” Shaw wrote. “My favorite memories are watching him on the sideline encouraging his teammates. He was always quick with a smile and respected by all.”

Prewett released a statement Dec. 22 alongside a photo of flowers sitting in front of Roper’s jersey and helmet in his locker.

“I’ve tried to put into words how this feels and how much of an impact this young man had on myself and our program,” Prewett began. “I remember hearing about your plans about your future and being so excited to see you achieve your dreams, I remember your jokes during practices. … Our program is forever changed and I’ll make sure that your story lives on through these stories.”

News of Roper’s untimely death has spread all over the country and to the National Football League.

Xavier McKinney, defensive back for the New York Giants and former Roswell Hornet, honored Roper by writing “RIP Robbie Roper” on his cleats Dec. 26.

The Atlanta Falcons also released a statement of support for the Roper family on Twitter, Dec. 22.

“Football is family. And we are saddened by the passing of one of our local high school football family members, Robbie Roper,” the statement read. “It is clear the impact Robbie has had on so many in the Roswell community and beyond, from family and friends to teammates and classmates, and so many more. May he rest in peace as we keep his family, friends and all those mourning his loss in our prayers.”

An extended family member of Roper started a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe after his passing to help his family cover funeral expenses and launch a sports scholarship in Roper’s name.

As of press time, the campaign has raised $53,317.

Reach Sydney Dangremond at 770-847-7404. Follow her on Twitter @syddang_.

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