Rico Webb: Saying goodbye to a 17-year-old 'gentle giant'

Webb, 17, was set to play football at Alabama State this fall. (Family photo)

Seventeen-year-old Richard Recardo Webb II was laid to rest in Columbia Saturday.

More than 600 people came out to the Bridgeway Community Church in pay their respects in an emotional funeral service where Richard, known to his family and friends as “Rico,” was honored.

After complaining of flu-like symptoms one week ago today, Rico was taken to the hospital. He died on Sunday morning. The autopsy revealed later that a blood clot was the cause of death.

On Saturday, family, friends, classmates and teammates gathered at a wake and funeral to process and find some closure to his sudden death.

His father, Richard Webb, made a public plea for something he knew could not happen.

“If I only had one wish I wish I could take his place,” his father, Richard Webb said sobbing. “My son was such a good kid.”

Webb recalled the fond memories he will hold with him throughout the hard days ahead, “for seventeen years I tucked my son into bed. For seventeen years I did that and I kissed him on his forehead every single night.”

Rico Webb was known as the “Gentle Giant,” as he stood at 6’7 and weighed 365 pounds. Naturally he was a star on the football field, shining as an offensive lineman on the DeMatha Catholic High School football team.

His teammates today were still stunned and distraught, but were to remember the good times.

“It was all so sudden, it just really hurts,” teammate Connor Bozick said, “He was a raging guy on the football field. He would just lay the wood into anyone. He was the nicest kid you’d ever meet. He’d doing anything to help you.”

Just last month Rico had signed a full scholarship to play football with Alabama State University next year.

Alabama State’s head football coach, Reggie Barlow, traveled to Maryland for the funeral today. He promised Rico’s unused locker would be still reserved for the recruit in the upcoming season, in honor of his passing.

“He’s made a name for himself already in Montgomery, Alabama, “Coach Barlow said, “Rico is a part of our family.”

Barlow presented the Webb family with the jersey their son would now never wear – an Alabama State jersey with Rico’s name and number.

While most knew Rico as a star athlete much of the funeral service today showed a different and much deeper side. For a teenager Rico was very religious. His last Facebook message before he died said, “I LOVE GOD!!!”

That spirituality, friends said today, made him shine brighter off the football field.

DeMatha sophomore Collin Miles said he was always truthful, even when the truth hurt and had a great sense of humor.

“Probably the best guy you could ever be friends with,' Miles said. “He was always happy.”

His teammates said the “Gentle Giant” always carried the team.

Many of the DeMatha football players served as pallbearers, slowing carrying his casket from the church today to start the funeral procession to his final resting place.

With tears, they hugged each other as they said their final goodbye.