'Take every play like it's your last': former teammates, coach mourn Joe McKnight

Jade Cunningham talks to the former coach and former teammates of Joe McKnight.

TERRYTOWN, La. - Those who were close with Joe McKnight say they're feeling a lot of emotions including anger and devastation Thursday after their friend was shot to death. 

They also said though, no one will ever be able to replace who McKnight was as a friend and an athlete.

“Life is difficult enough," said John Curtis Christian Football Coach, J.T. Curtis. "But when evil overcomes good for this short period of time, it’s difficult to deal with.”


Curtis said he had no words after learning about what happened to someone he considers family.

“My wife and I were coming back from an appointment, and I got a phone call and they said, ‘Did you hear about Joe McKnight?’" said Curtis. "They said he was killed today. And I said, no it has to be a different Joe.”

The two knew each other since McKnight was in the third grade. They became especially close when McKnight joined the high school football team. Curtis, who took McKnight in to live with his family after Hurricane Katrina, said he was great to coach.

“Well it’d be difficult to find someone who was more competitive," he said. "And it’d be certainly difficult to find someone who had more skill. He was a guy who not only was a great player but he was a tremendous leader on our football team and an all-around athlete.”

Teammates said he was inspiring.

"Amazing," said Kevin Wild, who played with McKnight at John Curtis. "Quite frankly I don't think there'll ever be a high school football player better than him."

They said he was someone who taught his teammates to always play hard.

"He wanted it every play," said Andrew Nierman, another teammate at John Curtis. "It was like he was playing for his life. He taught me to take every play like it's your last. Just the way he played the game he played so well."

Friends said McKnight was a true athlete. And while his dedication and passion on the field will be missed, it’s who he was off the field they say they'll think about the most.

“Well he had a great personality," said Curtis. "He always had a smile, he was a little bit of a jokester. He liked that kind of stuff.”

"He was one hell of a football player, but he was one hell of a human being. I'm going to miss him," said Wild.

"It's going to be hard to forget someone like Joe McKnight." said Nierman.

(© 2016 WWL)


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