IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Too Young to Die: Montreal Blakely Jr.

The 17-year-old pushed himself so hard that he often vomited on the field.

Montreal Blakely Jr., a defensive back for the Concord Minutemen, was a relentless athlete who pushed himself so hard during football practices that he often vomited on the field. "He wasn’t used to working at that pace but wasn't going to be seen as less than," head football coach Brian Hamilton told "He had no problem at pushing the boundary." Last summer while playing touch football, he broke his nose on the head of another player and had two black eyes and a swollen face for a week. But he did not miss a workout. Other players looked up to him for encouragement and inspiration. He looked up to the San Francisco '49ers. Montreal also flourished off the field by maintaining a 3.8 GPA and being popular with the girls. He promised his parents he would graduate high school with a 4.0 GPA, his father, Montreal Blakely Sr., told "He pursued everything with a smile. He had a plan every day for what he was going to do," his mother, Leslie Merritt, told, adding that "everything was positive."

Montreal was not a fan of running sprints, though, Hamilton said.

"Hey coach, why do we run so much?" Montreal asked one day.

"Because we hate losing more than we hate running," Hamilton replied.

"Oh, OK," Montreal responded. He never questioned the point again.

Last year marked the 17-year-old's first year at Concord High School in Concord, Calif. Before transferring as a senior, Montreal attended Mt. Diablo High School in the same town. He had played football there for three years in a program that had limited success, Hamilton said. When he played for the Minutemen, winning was a big deal for him. "He just lit up when we won," he said. "When we lost he was upset as anybody else but he probably had a little more perspective than the rest of us."

Montreal, #9, helped the team to an overall 10-3 season by making 86 tackles, according to, a national website that tracks high school sports statistics. The varsity football letterman recently began to speak with college football recruiters and had applied to Stanford University, Northwestern University, and the University of California campuses. He played his last game on Nov. 23, 2012 for a chance at the Division II championship. The team lost, but Montreal kept his positive perspective. Robert Liu, a teammate, told "He always said whatever comes his way and whatever life brings him, he would just go with it."

Montreal was shot and killed in San Francisco, Calif., on Dec. 15, 2012 by unidentified assailants while he was visiting friends.

More children's stories>