The life and legacy of former Newark star Darius Shackleford

Sports

NEWARK, Ohio (WCMH) — Tragedy struck the Newark community this past weekend when 24-year-old Darius Shackleford was killed in a crash while sitting in a parked car.

Youngstown Police were attempting to stop a 19-year-old for a traffic violation and a chase ensued. The driver eventually struck the vehicle Shackleford was sitting in. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Shackleford was a three-sport athlete, excelling at baseball, basketball and football at Newark. He pursued his dream of playing Division I football at Youngstown State and graduated just last year.

“Any room he walked in he always lit it up,” former Newark star quarterback Grant Russell said. “He’d light it up with laughter, he’d light it up with joy.”

Grant Russell connected with Shackleford on the field as the Wildcats’ quarterback, and off it as one of his best friends.

“He was just a loving, caring person and that’s not only felt by me. That’s felt by the entire community at Newark,” Russell said.

His loss was also felt by his former high school coaches.

“Always had a smile on his face. Always a wonderfully selfless kid. Probably of all the kids I taught, probably in the top 5 of most enjoyable kids to have in class,” former Newark baseball coach Kyle Walters said.

“He was great to my two kids. They were young then probably six and seven years old he would shoot with them,” Newark Athletic Director and boys basketball head coach Jeff Quackenbush said. “Just the way he was not just with his teammates but other kids. You’re remembered for how you treat other people and he was a great guy.”

In his senior year of 2015, Shackleford helped the baseball team reach the district finals and helped the basketball team win the district tournament. But it was football where he stood out the most racking up the second-most receptions in Newark history and the third-most receiving touchdowns and receiving yards.

“That’s kind of a rare thing anymore to have that combination of being a good athlete being a good student, being a role model. He was just the total package,” former Newark football head coach Mike Kopachy said.

Shackleford’s talent, work ethic and down to earth nature were rewarded by Youngstown State with a football scholarship. He played for the Penguins from 2015 to 2020.

Although his life was cut short, the way he lived and loved will continue on in those who loved him.

“He’s going to want us to keep going,” Russell said. “Keep living the right way and doing the right things because that’s what he always did and that’s the lasting legacy I do believe he’s going to leave.”

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