Anthony Liddell had dreams of becoming a physical therapistand moving to a big city, possibly Atlanta, his aunt said on Wednesday, theday after his death in shooting at Coastal Carolina University's UniversityPlace residence hall.
"We had no indication whatsoever that we would be burying my nephew at 19years old," said Adriane Gillespie Davis. "He had such a promising,bright future."
Davis said Liddell, a sophomore, was majoring in sports medicine and hadloved sports since he was a child. In high school, she said he playedfootball for the Marlboro County High School Bulldogs, but he also lovedbasketball and baseball, and still played recreational sports.
His mother's only child, Davis said the family called Liddell "T.J." for"Tony Jr.," after his father, and that he loved helping people, and heloved kids. She said Liddell was a good kid -- respectable, well-manneredand churchgoing -- who loved to have fun and loved video games, music,freestyle rap and making his own CDs. "This was a kid who was in National Beta Club in high school, and hegraduated with honors," said Davis, who said he was like her own child,and that they talked often. "He never had any issues with any of thenormal stuff teenagers do."
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Davis said Liddell liked the beach and liked being at CCU, which is alittle over an hour away from his hometown of Bennettsville. She said itwas far enough away for him to have his independence but close enough thathe could get home quickly.
Liddell played for the Marlboro County High School football team during hisjunior and senior years at the school before graduating in 2011, said DeanBoyd, the school's athletic director and head football coach.
"Anthony was a great young man. He was very conscious about his grades, hewas very school related. He was a teacher cadet. He was on the school'sRelay for Life team," Boyd said. "He was just a very, very good youngman, all-around. He was very polite and always courteous."
Liddell, who played wide receiver and defensive back, wasn't a starter onthe team, but embraced his role as a backup player and "did whatever hecould to help the team," Boyd said.
"It's been a tough day. We feel for his parents and want to send out ourcondolences and sympathy to them," Boyd said. "He was a very good youngman, who never got in trouble, who had great grades, was very quiet. Hestayed away from trouble. He was never around it. This has been a shock."
At CCU, Liddell worked in receiving, loading packages and making deliveriesto various departments on campus, said Suzanne Beverly, manager of centralreceiving, procurement services. She said her department is small, withonly three full-time employees, along with Liddell and his roommate.
"I'm still in a state," Beverly said. "I don't believe that happenedhere and to happen to someone as good as that child was."
Beverly said Liddell was very quiet and always very polite, saying "yes,ma'am" and "no, ma'am," and asking if there was anything else he coulddo. At the office's Christmas lunch, she said he was the first to bow hishead to say the blessing, and he was on the Dean's List, although he toldher that to make the President's List, "That takes a lot of work."
Beverly said she can't imagine it was something other than a random act,and as an only child, his parents have lost their whole world.
"It's just shocking," Beverly said. "I did not know it was him till Icame into work this morning, so it's been a bad day."
Junior Frankie Hall knew Liddell and said he was really focused on schooland bettering himself.
"He prided himself on academic achievement," said Hall, who lives offcampus but got to know Liddell while spending time with friends atUniversity Place, "and he had one of the most heartwarming smiles I haveever seen in a young man."
Hall said he was at University Place when he received the CCU alert aboutthe shooting, and Liddell's roommates came in frantically saying he'd beenshot but didn't know any details. He said at that point, they all got intotheir cars and headed to the hospital to wait for news about their friend.
"He carried himself in a manner where you respected him, with pride andintegrity," Hall said. "He knew who he was."
CCU sent a message to its students, faculty and staff Wednesday morning,saying the university community mourns the loss of Liddell.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of AnthonyLiddell," said CCU President David DeCenzo in a release. "Tragedies suchas these anywhere in our society are senseless. Precious loss of life atsuch an early age affects us all. Our primary goal is to ensure the safetyand security of our students. We will continue to do all that we can withall the resources necessary to make sure that our students are safe andsecure. We only pray that an event like this never happens on our campus orany college campus again."
The university will host a candlelight vigil in Spadoni Park on campusbeginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. DeCenzo and Debbie Conner, vice president forstudent affairs, will speak at the vigil and an open microphone will beavailable for students to share memories. Preston McKever-Floyd, professorin the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, will give a closingprayer, and refreshments will be provided.
Davis said she didn't know about possible memorial plans yet, and that thefamily was doing as well as could be expected in such a situation.
"It's a shock -- I just can't imagine why someone would want to do this,"Davis said. "It's like I'm living a bad dream and just waiting to wakeup."