3 former UH football players killed in a car crash are being remembered for defying the odds and serving others

Household, buddies, teammates and followers are mourning the lives misplaced within the deadly automobile crash that claimed the lives of six individuals in downtown Houston on Saturday, November 11.

Three of the victims have been recognized as former College of Houston soccer gamers: DJ Hayden, Zach McMillian, And Ralph Orajo. Houston police mentioned they had been inside an SUV that was struck by a dashing driver who ran a crimson gentle at about 2 a.m. Two others had been killed, and two others stay in hospital.

Individuals who knew Hayden, McMillian and Orago mentioned they remained shut after graduating from the College of Houston and infrequently frolicked collectively. All of them grew up in Fort Bend County, the place different communities are mourning the tragedy.

Hayden was a graduate of Elkins Excessive Faculty in Missouri Metropolis, McMillian was a graduate of Dallas Excessive Faculty in Sugar Land, and Orago was a graduate of Marshall Excessive Faculty in Missouri Metropolis.

Instantly earlier than the homecoming sport towards the College of Cincinnati on Saturday evening, a second of silence was held in reminiscence of the three graduates as their images had been displayed on the video boards.

Earlier than kickoff, the college’s athletics division issued a press release confirming the deaths of the previous gamers and stating that the group is grieving.

“We prolong our deepest condolences to their households, buddies and family members, as we collectively grieve the lack of three people who had an indelible impression on each life they touched,” the division mentioned in a part of the assertion. The total fan assertion might be discovered right here.

Hayden survived a ruptured coronary heart throughout a UH apply in 2012 and was chosen by the then-Oakland Raiders because the twelfth total choose of the 2013 NFL Draft.

DJ Hayden RydersDJ Hayden was chosen No. 12 total by the Oakland Raiders. Photograph by Ezra Shaw/Getty Pictures

His final NFL sport was in 2021. However he returned to the sideline, spending this season serving as a volunteer defensive backs coach at Second Baptist Faculty. Athletic Director Mike Walker instructed ABC13’s Adam Winkler that Hayden wished to offer again and make an impression on younger student-athletes.

Whereas their mixed expertise has supplied Houston soccer with a few of its most memorable moments, their distinctive legacy could also be greatest remembered for the best way they cherished their teammates, supported their communities, and defied the percentages.

“DJ has overcome lots. So, listening to that information, it was like, ‘Wow.’ “He was a humorous man and was all the time cracking jokes. Similar with Zach McMillian. Ralph was slightly brother however an older one. Similar to a teddy bear. It was all the time nice power from the three of them,” Demetrius Woods, a former teammate, mentioned.

“If you’d like your child to be like anybody, it is Zach McMillian, DJ Hayden, and Ralph Orajo. Not solely had been they nice teammates, however they got here again and had been leaders within the Alumni Affiliation. We’d like extra individuals like that,” Ted mentioned. “It breaks our hearts to see younger individuals taken from this world at such a younger age,” mentioned Pardee, College of Houston soccer colour analyst.

All three gamers spent a number of seasons with the Cougs soccer program between 2009 and 2013, together with Jeffrey Lewis, who was additionally injured in Saturday’s accident.

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This text by Rosie Nguyen and Adam Winkler was initially printed on our information associate ABC13.

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