LEAVENWORTH, Kan. — Friends, teammates and loved ones gathered Saturday to remember the life of University of Saint Mary senior Justin White.
White lost his life in a car accident in Oklahoma while heading back to Kansas City from the Jan. 9 Podyum Bowl in Miami Beach, Florida, where NFL scouts were present.
Those who knew White best tell KSHB 41 he had a smile and personality that made an impression.
“When you first meet him, it’s like y’all been knowing each other for years,” said teammate Nurye Brokins.
Teammate Josh Rodger says White was like a brother to him, an extended family member.
White's familiarity and warmth were evident on the field as well as in how he was viewed as a leader.
“Even though it was the same thing the coach was saying sometimes, certain things the players have to tell the players, and Justin made it relatable to the players to understand and look up to," said wide receivers coach Chris Fields.
Coaches say White's attitude on the field kept the other players on their toes.
“He played o[ffensive] line, I played, d[efensive] line, so we battle every day in practice, and it forced us to get closer because we would leave it all out there on the field,” said Ryan Rucker, teammate.
Outside of football, White's friends say he was a positive, inspirational force.
“He was somebody who changed me into somebody better for myself and toward other people,” said teammate Chineau Nwadike.
In the wake of his loss, White leaves behind his girlfriend Lucy Steyer, who says she fell in love with his kind, sweet and thoughtful nature as well as his dedication to calling his mother every day.
“In every single thing he did, he always talked positively about every single situation, every single person he knew,” Steyer said.
While he is gone, his spirit lives on.
"He could find the silver lining in everything, so I haven’t found it yet but I’m trying to," Steyer said.