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WHITEVILLE, NC (WWAY) — Family and friends gathered in Whiteville today to pay final respects to football great Chester McGlockton.

Competitors and teammates came together with his family and friends to celebrate his life. Those who played against him say when the “gentle giant” tackled you, it was one of the biggest hits you ever felt, but there was always Chester’s hand right there to pick you back up.

The 42-year-old died last week in California, where he was an assistant coach for the BCS-bound Stanford Cardinal.

Back home, McGlockton is known for leading Whiteville High to the 1987 state championship.

“If you needed a play to be made, he was the one that was going to make the play,” coach and friend Glenn McKoy said. “We was winning the football game, time was running out, Thomasville had scored and was going for a two-point conversion. We needed to stop them in order to win the state, and of course, chester McGlockton made the play.”

McGlockton went on to star at Clemson and in the NFL, where he was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. High school teammates say despite his success, he never forgot his roots.

“He is the biggest athlete to ever come out of Whiteville High School,” Kenneth Pygatt said. “He means everything to this community. He is always giving back to this community. He always had camps, giving away shoes to the basketball team also. He was just a great guy.”

Family and friends who came to pay their respects say they remember McGlockton as so much more than just a football player.

“He made, mostly made Whiteville,” friend Roscoe Shaw said.

McKoy said, “He purchased football cleats for the football team every year he was in the NFL. There’s so many things he did not only for Whiteville High School but he did for Whiteville city, also for his church.”

McGlockton is survived by his wife Zina and his daughters Skylar and Sierra, as well as his parents, two brothers and two sisters. His mom and one of his sisters still call Whiteville home.

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