OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Former McClymonds High and Laney College football standout Ramone Sanders Jr., 19, died Friday after a yearlong battle with bone cancer. He was honored at a musical celebration in Oakland on Sunday.
The music was vibrant, the emotion was raw as hundreds gathered at New Beginnings Church for the concert “Make a Joyful Noise: The Musical Miracle.”
The event was supposed to be a celebration for a cancer survivor, but after Sanders passed away, his friends and family decided the show would go on in his memory.
Sanders played as a lineman for two state championship teams, one at McClymonds and then later at Laney College. But late last year, Sanders broke his leg. That’s when doctors discovered the young man had bone cancer.
“It was an unscheduled injury. He was for sure going to be a star. If not in the league, then in his community,” said Fredo Sanders, Ramone’s uncle.
“Ramone never gave up. Perseverance. Ramone is a sweetheart of a person. Ramone is one of the sweetest people I’ve known,” said friend Destiny Shabazz.
He never did give up, In fact, he planned to leave the hospital to attend Sunday’s musical. But cancer took him just two days before.
Many of Sanders’ teammates were in attendance, as was local superstar professional football player Marshawn Lynch.
His family is heartbroken.
“It’s just a tough pill to swallow. Especially today. Like this musical, that’s why I just had to walk out, it’s just…I was in tears in there, man,” said Fredo Sanders.
Ramone’s fiancée, D’Anna Pierre-Jones, says he fought to the end.
“He fought hard. He had his moments where we had our talks, but he kept his promise. ‘I’m going to keep fighting. Even if I can’t do it no more, I’m going to keep fighting.’ But he knew it was his time,” she said.