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Harlan HS honors teammate after death, dedicates season to Shomari Anderson

After his death in January, the Harlan community rallied around the Anderson family for what should've been Shomari's senior season.

SAN ANTONIO — Every time undefeated Harlan takes the field, the team never forgets about its one loss. 

"He's always around. He's always a part of us,” Harlan head football coach Eddie Salas said.

Shomari Anderson is in the locker room. He's also on the field, sitting on the bench and saying a prayer with his brother before the game with his parents in the stands.

"My worst fear is that his memory would fade,” Kara Anderson, Shomari’s mother, said while holding back tears.

Shomari is gone, but he is still here.

"Just show he's a part of this team and he'll never be forgotten on this team and he'll always have a legacy on this team,” senior wide receiver and friend Jacory Logan said.

Credit: Kara Anderson
The Anderson family.

Kara and William Anderson moved their family to San Antonio in January of 2018.

"I was excited because I've never been anywhere else, but Florida. When (William) said, ‘Hey we're moving,’ I was like, 'Hey, let's go,” Kara said, laughing.

Their son Shomari, a sophomore at the time, had no problems making friends.

"Shomari was a character,” William says, heavily emphasizing the word.

Logan and quarterback Kannon Williams, another friend of Shomari’s, agreed he had quite the personality.

"You heard him in the hallway, locker room, anywhere,” Logan said. Williams interjects playfully, “You know he was there saying something stupid.”

With Harlan entering its first season of varsity football in the fall, head coach Eddie Salas knew Shomari would be a perfect fit.

"I think when you build a foundation and you try to say what we are going to build it upon, the easiest part for me is build it on character.”

As a junior, No. 82 started at wide receiver. He helped Harlan to an 8-4 record with its first-ever playoff win. There was a lot to be excited about entering his senior season.

"Whenever we were in eighth period math class he was like, 'You think we're not going undefeated next year?’ Logan said.

Credit: Kara Anderson
The Anderson family placed a cross at the crash site where Shomari Anderson died.

Then came the morning of Jan. 12, 2019.

"The cops came and asked me if Shomari was my son. And I said yes. That's when they apologized and said that he was in a bad car accident and he didn't make it,” Kara said, crying.

William added: "Obviously, the worst day of my life.” 

Shomari Anderson was just 17 years old.

“Even though this was a single car accident, we don't exactly know what happened and why he lost control,” Kara said.

Shomari's brother Kamali, just one year younger, will never forget that day.

"I felt not his body, but his spirit right next to me as I was looking at him, but all I could think about was this is real. This is my brother,” Kamali said, holding back tears.

Anger and pain tried to push the Andersons away.

"I was ready to leave,” William said. “I was ready to leave because my first thoughts were, 'This wouldn't have happened in Florida.'"

That's when love was needed the most. 

"We talked on the phone and tried to tell him, 'We're here to support you,'" Salas said. “'We're not going to do it in words, we're going to support you all the time. Whatever you need.'"

It started the very next day, with a prayer gathering on the football field.

"You can just see the love and support when we were walking up,” Kara said. “It was amazing. I could definitely feel the love and support there and it was unreal."

The family was not alone, especially Kamali.

"Now that he doesn't have an older brother figure, we just want to step in as a brother figure,” Logan said. “(He can) count on us for anything."

Thanks to the Harlan community, the Andersons stayed in San Antonio.

“After Shomari's death, it's just been amazing,” Kara says, crying. William comforted his wife, kissing her hand.

With a new high school football season approaching, it was time for their son to have his senior year.

“In that locker room it's crazy. It's like a memorial,” Logan said.

Kamail also said, "I look at his locker and all I see is a football, his jersey, picture and flowers and I was like, ‘Dang, if he was here what would he do?'"

In a moment of solidarity and strength, No. 82 runs onto the field. With his jersey carried out, he claims his spot on the bench.

"When I saw the flag I just couldn't believe it. Who does that, ya know?” an appreciative Kara said.

William adds, "That's our moment. That's our moment when that happens."

Before every game, Kamali says a prayer with his brother.

"All I say is, 'I know you would want to do good in (this game) and I just hope you can connect both of our spirits so I can be the best football player I can be on the field.'"

Credit: Kara Anderson
Kamali Anderson (No. 85), praying besides Shomari's jersey before a game.

Shomari Anderson might be gone, but he is here.

"One of the things we talked about at the end of our season, we hope to go all the way you know, but at the end of the season is to get that flag and fold it up and give it to his parents,” Salas said. 

William cannot wait for that moment.

"I'm looking forward to it," he said. "We're going to hang it up and it's going to be displayed in this house forever."

Shomari predicted the perfect season, but for a team that's 11-0, its one loss says everything you need to know about this group.

"There's always something that someone does to keep his memory alive," Kara said, "and it truly helps so much to get through."

Credit: KENS 5
The Harlan football team takes the field with the No. 82 flag honoring Shomari Anderson.