Hillcrest-Evergreen football coach Justin Nared described Robert Baldwin Jr. as a “gentle giant” on Friday.
Baldwin, an 18-year-old senior on the Jaguars’ football team, was stabbed on Highway 83 in the West Side neighborhood of Evergreen, according to the Conecuh County Coroner’s office on social media.
He was taken to Evergreen Medical Center and pronounced deceased Thursday night.
“It’s just so tragic and unfortunate,” Nared told AL.com. “I got a phone call late last night. I didn’t get a whole lot of details. There were conflicting stories with all the information, but at the end of the day he was stabbed multiple times and later died.”
Baldwin started on the Hillcrest-Evergreen football team as a defensive lineman. He also served as a backup offensive guard and punt long snapper.
“We were trying to get him some junior college opportunities,” Nared said. “If that didn’t work out, we were trying to get him signed up for the military. He was such a humble kid. He was strong as an ox, but was a big, gentle giant. I hate it for our community.”
Baldwin, according to Nared, was a leader both on and off the field.
“He was that alpha male that everyone needs on a football team, and everyone loved him,” he went on to say. “I was walking through the cafeteria at school this morning, which is usually pretty active and loud, and you could hear a pin drop today.” It’s something you never expect to have to deal with.”
It’s something Nared hasn’t had to deal with in his brief coaching tenure.
“I’ve been places where we’ve had former players die, and that is certainly tragic, too,” he said. “But I’ve never had a current player murdered. It’s just so sad. What do you go in and tell teenagers when a kid that they were just in school with four hours ago has been killed? One of their best friends is literally no longer here. You walk in and all you see is kids with red eyes and crying.”
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