LADSON - The North-South All-Star Game was supposed to be the crowning achievement in Francis Lloyd's high school career. The Stratford High wide receiver was selected to play in today's game at Myrtle Beach's Doug Shaw Stadium after he caught 60 passes for 768 yards and three touchdowns his senior season.
But on Friday, football and life were put in perspective when Lloyd learned that his house in Ladson had burned down during the night.
"My life changed just like that," Lloyd said. "Someone tells you news like that and it crushes you. It crushes your family. What can you do?"
Six adults and four children made it safely out of the home at 106 Curly Lane in Ladson early Friday morning. Lloyd has been in Myrtle Beach all week, preparing for the 62nd annual all-star game, which kicks off at noon.
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Lloyd considered returning home but decided to stay in Myrtle Beach and play in the game. He still hadn't talked to his mother early Friday evening but managed to contact his sister, Angela Stevens.
"She told me the best thing to do is to stay up here," Lloyd said. "It wouldn't do any good to come back home. She told me to do as good as possible."
Stratford coach Ray Stackley consoled his player on Friday.
"I told him life throws you a lot of curveballs and it's how you handle them that people remember most," Stackley said. "There are great challenges in life, and you have to learn from them. I told him it was tragic, but the great thing is his mom, the kids and his sister all got out and are alive. They lost everything. Material things can be replaced although it might take some time. Family and lives can't be replaced."
Lloyd said his family was still planning to go to the game.
"Come game time, I'll try to block it out and do as good as possible," he said. "I can't let the team or my family down. Coach Stackley told me this is some of the hardest stuff I'll have to go through. I have to grow up and be strong."
Stackley said Lloyd was torn between returning home and playing in the game.
"He wants to throw his arm around his mother and give her a hug," Stackley said. "And, he doesn't want to let his teammates down. But he's got a great support system up here, and there's nothing he can do at home."
The Lowcountry Chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the family.
Donations can be made by sending a check to the American Red Cross, Carolina Lowcountry Chapter located at 8085 Rivers Ave. Suite F in North Charleston, SC 29406 or by calling (843) 764-2323 ext. 368. Donations can also be made online at the Lowcountry Red Cross web site.