Chris Lammons’ fun-loving personality could bring a smile to anyone’s face, and turn a laugh into a lasting memory.
His National Signing Day ceremony at Plantation High on Wednesday was the perfect example.
Before announcing his commitment to the University of South Carolina, Lammons took the microphone and worked the crowd like only he could. Along with his appreciations to friends, family, coaches and teachers, he even went as far as thanking the cafeteria ladies for also helping him every step of the way.
Lammons’ time to shine in front of his peers and closest supporters also offered him a time to reflect on the hardships he has faced in his young life.
“Without the bad times, there wouldn’t be any good times,” Lammons said.
Wednesday was definitely a good time.
National Signing Day is an exciting time for high school senior athletes across the country. They get a chance to celebrate with loved ones their fortunate achievement of being able to play their respective sport in college thanks to a scholarship.
For some players, however, a family member or two are unfortunately missing from the celebration.
In February 2007, Lammons was 11 years old when his father, Rufus, died from a brain aneurysm and his mother, Connie Smith, died from kidney failure just two weeks later.
“For Chris being 11, it was devastating losing [them] back to back,” said Charity Farley, Lammons’ sister whom he has lived with since.
Farley, now 35, was 28 when their father passed away. She said though it was a tough time for Lammons, she felt he dealt with it better than she thought he would. Nevertheless, it still affects Lammons to this day – even during his 18th birthday last Friday.
“You can tell from time to time, he gets quiet,” Farley said. “He gets sad. I know that it’s on his mind. When the birthdays and holidays come around, you know, he shakes it off and deals with it.”
Trying to brush his feelings aside is all Lammons can do, really.
And though Farley and others close to him say Lammons does a good job of masking his feelings and refraining from bringing up the subject, deep down it’s easy to see when he needs a little more support than usual.
“When you see those actions, you kind of dig deeper and put your arm around him a little more, cuddle him a little more,” said Kevin Beard, a former University of Miami wide receiver who Lammons said was as an instrumental figure in his life. “And let him know he has somebody, and that he doesn’t have to feel that way.”
Lammons’ commitment to South Carolina was months in the making for the Plantation quarterback who will play cornerback in college.
After visiting Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida during the last week of July, Lammons tried to commit to the Gamecocks but was told they didn’t have room for another defensive back. He then decided to commit to Florida, but ended up withdrawing his pledge in January, leaving him just a month to decide on a college.
“I was just trying to find a place where I could go and play early,” said Lammons, who still considered the Gamecocks once a spot opened for him. “And a place I just felt comfortable at with a good coaching staff. And I felt like South Carolina would be that for me.”
Lammons was drawn to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier because, “All he likes to do is win.” He came to a final decision Wednesday morning, eliminating Wisconsin, with the help of Beard and Plantation coach Steve Davis.
“It’s one of the best days of the year for me,” Davis said. “All of this started as a dream for these guys.”
Wide receiver Kendon Davis was the only other athlete at the school to sign a National Letter of Intent during the ceremony. He’s going to play at Bethune-Cookman University, where his father and several of his uncles were athletes.
“Bethune is in my blood,” he said.
Kendon Davis also worked the Planation crowd in a joking manner with a parting note to his underclassmen teammates.
“Wish we could’ve beat St. Thomas [Aquinas], but y’all boys got that next year though,” he said, referring to the Colonels’ postseason loss to the Raiders this past season.
Lammons will now team up and compete with Aquinas cornerback and fellow commit Al Harris Jr. He’ll also be reunited with South Florida Express 7-on-7 teammate Skai Moore, who attended Davie University School and was a standout freshman linebacker for the Gamecocks last season.
“This is a remarkable day,” Farley said. “I’m happy that he’s going somewhere to further his education and further his talents.
“I’m very, very happy. It’s like words cannot explain the overwhelming feeling of this day, and that he has this opportunity.”
As for his parents, Lammons – short and to the point – said, “They would just be proud of me.”
Farley said Lammons’ parents would have been even more elated than she is.
“[They would be] very proud,” Farley said. “Very Happy. Very, very happy.”