LUMBERTON — For Chadd Scott, giving up was never an option.
Whether he was on the football field or fighting cancer, Scott served as an inspiration to those around him.
On Friday, June 5, the former Lumberton High School football player died after a year-long battle with cancer. He was 17 years old.
After his younger brother passed away, Corey Scott found a note on Chadd’s phone that was created May 19: “I may lose my fight, but I won’t lose my faith.”
“That note was true,” Corey said. “(Chadd) never did give up fighting. I hope he’s remembered for having a lot of life because he never let up.”
On May 26, 2014, less than a week before his birthday, Chadd was diagnosed with a rare desmoplastic cancer in his stomach. The aggressive disease left him with a tumor the size of a cantaloupe and eventually spread to other organs.
Through it all, he kept fighting, making it to his 17th birthday on May 31.
“When he found out he had it he never shed a tear and he never complained,” said Larry Scott, Chadd’s father. “He gave his heart to the Lord in the (intensive care unit) and kept that faith until the end. He got to celebrate one last time.”
As the news of his passing spread through the county, Facebook was flooded with posts ending with the hashtag #Forever99, a nod to the number Chadd wore as a lineman during his two seasons with the Pirates’ JV football team.
“When he lined up against you, you better have been ready to get hit,” said Josh Strickland, Chadd’s cousin and former teammate. “He always had that fight in him and he never stopped.”
Jamie Bell, Chadd’s JV coach, recalls that no-quit attitude during practices and when visiting Chadd at Duke University Hospital in Durham.
“He never gave up on anything,” Bell said. “When we did sprints in practice I never saw him give up, even though he wasn’t the fastest. Everyone rallied behind him. And when doctors told him the odds were against him, he never changed his attitude.”
As Lumberton’s current varsity football coach, Mike Setzer said Chadd will continue to provide inspiration for the Pirates.
“He had such a strong will. And the kids always talk about his resiliency,” said Setzer, whose team plans on wearing its Maroon jerseys during Chadd’s memorial service tonight. “He was truly an angel on earth.”
While he loved football, Chadd wasn’t limited to life between the sidelines. He was an avid hunter and fisherman, served as a junior member of Lumberton Rescue and EMS and was a member of the Lumbee Tribe First Nation Drum Group.
“It wasn’t just about football with him,” said Mike Brill, Lumberton’s former football coach and a friend of the Scott family. “He stayed connected with everything in town and was always involved in the community.”
Since Chadd’s death, the family has been flooded with stories of inspiration via text message, calls and social media, with some of them coming from as far away as Canada and Russia.
Larry said he had no idea Chadd had such an impact on so many lives.
“I’ve found out how much he’s done for everyone else and it just blesses me,” Larry said. “I always told him he was going to be a leader. Now it’s complete. Everybody has been following him and supporting him through this ordeal.”
Throughout Chadd’s year-long battle with the disease, the Lumberton community rallied behind the family with financial support.
“When all of this started everyone jumped in and helped with different fundraisers and gatherings,” Lumberton Principal Larry Obeda said. “He was an all-around great kid and we’re deeply saddened by this loss.”
A member of Saddletree Church of God, Chadd lived his life centered around his Christian beliefs.
“He was a role model to me and to his friends,” Larry said. “One of his favorite scriptures was ,’Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.’ He was a shining example. He was strong for me when I tried to be strong for him.”
Hunter Nance, a friend of Chadd’s for more than six years and a hunting buddy, said the two shared a unique bond.
“He was always there for me and I was always there for him,” Nance said. “Me and him looked at one another like brothers more so than friends. He’s the strongest guy I’ve ever known and I’ll miss him.”
As Larry reflects on the 17 years he shared with his youngest son, he said there are no regrets.
“I said last year I felt like he was going to be my miracle child and be healed,” Larry said. “Well, he is healed. God chose to take him home. I just hope people enjoy life, take nothing for granted and love each other. That’s what he did.”
— Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182 or on Twitter @RoddBaxley.