TYLER - TYLER, Texas -- Hundreds came together in North Tyler Monday night to remember a youth football coach who died after collapsing on the sidelines after his game.
Anthony “Banks” Erskine, 38, coached the 7- and 8-year-old Tyler Lions Youth Football team – also known as the freshmen.
As the Lions shook hands with their opponents Saturday – one step closer to an undefeated season – Erskine said he did not feel well.
“Next thing I know, he collapsed,” recalled Joe Thompson, president of Tyler Lions Youth Football.
Medical professionals in the bleachers rushed to help Erskine until paramedics arrived – all while spectators prayed.
When he arrived at the hospital Coach Erskine was already gone, Thompson said.
Doctors believe he died from a heart attack. Family members said he had no known medical conditions.
“We can make peace with it because he passed doing what he loved,” said Banks’ brother, Demetrius Erskine. “He got that one game out of the way.”
Erskine not only volunteered for the Lions, he also coached the East Texas Storm minor professional football team.
“Anthony always said teaching the little boys was so much easier than teaching the grown men,” his wife, Guadalupe, recalled. “And he just really loved teaching the boys.”
Banks loved coaching one boy in particular – his son Anthony III (AJ), who was on the field Saturday along with his mom and younger brother Jacoby.
“I love my daddy and he will always be watching over us,” said AJ.
The Lions’ next opponent, the East Texas Longhorns, were among the teams who put competition aside as they attended Monday’s vigil.
With guidance from their coach now above the lights, the freshmen Lions will take on the Longhorns for homecoming Saturday night -- hopeful of maintaining their win streak.
Meanwhile, Demetrius, who coaches the 6-year-old team, has his own undefeated record to uphold. He will coach his Lions Saturday as well.
“If I don't, I'll feel like I let my brother down,” Demetrius said. “We've got unfinished business. Undefeated don't mean nothing right now. We've got a long way to go.”
Funeral services for Anthony Erskine will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at College Hill Baptist Church in Tyler.
A GoFundMe has been setup to help his family pay for funeral expenses. Anyone wishing to donate can click here to visit the site.
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