CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — Hundreds gathered at Mallard Creek High School Monday night to remember volunteer football coach Ralph Hammond, who was killed at his home Friday night.
CMPD says they found the 56-year-old suffering from multiple gunshot wounds shortly before 10 p.m. He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Those at the vigil say the high turnout was a testament to the person Coach Ralph was. His friends and family said he took in kids who didn’t have mentors and even converted his garage into a gym for the players to use whenever they wanted.
“Practice… it was a really serious practice. We just want to remember him, continue to do good for him this season, and win states for him,” said senior Mallard Creek football player Michael Short.
BE THE FIRST TO KNOW: Sign up here for QC News Alerts and get breaking news sent straight to your in
Hammond’s friends say there wasn’t anything the volunteer coach wouldn’t do for the players, whether it was taking them to sports camps across the country, bringing them to his family’s house for the holidays, or giving them a place to call home.
“There were some young men who needed more than just weightlifting and football. They needed help from a man. They needed companionship, counseling, and mentoring. He just opened up his house,” said long-time friend Terence Lawshe.
Hammond’s family described him as a gentle giant, which is why they say they were surprised to hear of his death.
“I was in disbelief until I walked up to the crime scene and said to the detective, ‘Just tell me. I just need you to say it.’ Because I didn’t believe it,” said Hammond’s younger sister Debbie Hammond.
The main takeaway from Monday’s vigil was encouraging the community to live their lives as Coach Ralph would approve: loving everyone and striving always to do the right thing.
“We appreciate everything he did for us, and just remember him this season,” said Short.
CMPD hasn’t released any details about what may have led up to the shooting at Hammond’s home Friday night, nor any information about a possible suspect.