Hours after new indictments were announced in the Odin Lloyd murder case, his mother accepted flowers from his former high school football team during an emotional pregame ceremony Friday night at the Jack Crump Memorial Athletic Field in Roxbury.
Surrounded by friends and family, Ursula Ward walked onto the field between lines formed by the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science team, on which her son excelled, and the Jeremiah E. Burke High School squad.
Both teams applauded as Ward, wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with her son’s photograph, took a bouquet tied with a blue ribbon from Kevin Gadson, the O’Bryant head coach. “I know it is tough, and we play this game in memory of Odin,” said Gadson.
Ward then embraced him and other coaches from both teams.
The teams thought Friday’s game would be a fitting time to pay tribute to Lloyd, 27, because many of the coaches had played and coached for both O’Bryant and for the Boston Bandits, a semi-professional team Lloyd joined as an adult.
‘He was a great relative, great friend. He loved football.’Omar Phillip, cousin of Odin Lloyd
Fighting back tears and speaking softly during an interview after the ceremony, Ward said the tribute “meant a whole lot to me,” though she wished the circumstances were different.
“I wish my son was here,” she said.
Ward declined to discuss her feelings about the indictments announced Friday against three people — including the fiancee and a cousin of former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who stands accused of murdering Lloyd in the predawn hours of June 17 in a North Attleborough industrial park. Carlos Ortiz, an alleged accomplice, also faces new charges announced against him Friday.
Lloyd’s cousin, Omar Phillip, 28, who played against him when he was on the Burke team, spoke highly of him during an interview after the tribute ceremony. “He was a great relative, great friend,” Phillip said. “He loved football.”
Darryl Hodge, 28, a close friend of Lloyd’s and a teammate in high school and on the Bandits, said Lloyd excelled on both the offensive and defensive lines for O’Bryant, as well as at tight end, fullback, and linebacker.
“That's my protector,” said Hodge, who played quarterback at O’Bryant, referring to Lloyd’s dependability as a blocker.
On defense, Hodge said, Lloyd emulated his idol, Ray Lewis, a now-retired linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens.
“First one to the ball, knocking heads off,” Hodge said.
Calling Lloyd “my brother,” he said he offers support to Ward on a daily basis.
The mother of the beloved uncle, athlete, and friend managed to smile when she thought about what her son might have been doing during the tribute.
“I know Odin is looking down” on the field, Ward said. “I know he’s right here.”