WARRENVILLE, S.C. (WJBF) – Family and friends are reflecting on the life of a 17-year-old who drowned in the Savannah River over the weekend.
Some of his last conversations were about how he wanted to make everyone proud of him, on and off the football field. His sister told us he worked hard, almost daily, practicing the sports he loved, both football and basketball.
“He used to tell me how serious he was about sports and how he wanted to do something big and then he wanted to help everybody out after he did that,” Totyanna Freeman said of her brother.
She said he had dreams of a bright future in sports, always looking over his games to improve on his work.
His best friend agreed.
“He was a talented athlete,” said Joseph Smalls. “He played basketball. He played everything. He was going D-1 for sure.”
But his life was cut short after a tragic drowning.
Smalls told us he and Antonio Freeman have been best friends since 8th grade. Of course, they met on the football field back then and it was right there from the 50 yard line where they grew to be best buds.
“I had got a touch down. He was right there yelling my name,” Smalls reflected.
He donned a #30 football jersey for the Midland Valley High School Mustangs and during basketball season, Freeman could be seen wearing the oh so famous #23.
He was award winning, in fact, but still humble enough to keep everyone uplifted.
“He used to come on the football field with a ‘doo-rag’ and everyone would be like, Antonio, what’s on your head? He was always there for me,” he said fondly.
“We always stuck together,” his sister remembered of their childhood days. “We always supported each other. I always tried to go to his games. He tried to go to my games.”
And an even closer bond could be found between Antonio and his older sister Totyanna. The two just a year apart, she said she’s still in disbelief.
“It just didn’t sound like him because he’s so good athletically, you never expect something like this to happen. He usually overcomes everything.”
Antonio Freeman, a normal kid who loved Snapchat, will forever remain larger than life itself to those who loved him.
Smalls added, “We had dreams of going D-1, going to school, facing each other just achieving the dream. When I take that field, my first touchdown is going to be for him.”
Aiken County Public Schools also came forward saying they are saddened to learn of Antonio Freeman’s passing. They say he was a popular student at Midland Valley.
Our District family is mourning the loss of two dear students today.
We were profoundly saddened to learn of the weekend passing of Aiken County Public Schools students Antonio Miguel Freeman of Midland Valley High School and Liberty Grace Eubanks of Jefferson Elementary School.
Antonio was a popular student at Midland Valley High, and he excelled as a member of the Mustang football team. Liberty was a bright and shining light at Jefferson Elementary during her brave fight against a terrible illness.
Both of these amazing students will be dearly missed by their classmates, teachers and school families, and we send our most heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to their families.
An autopsy will be performed on Freeman. His family is still working on arrangements.
Photojournalist: Gary Hipps