Anderson community honoring life of 9th grade student

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 1:28 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2022 at 1:47 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Anderson School District One is remembering the life of a beloved, freshman basketball and volleyball player at Palmetto High School who recently passed away.

The Palmetto community wore purple in memory of Kierra Johnson at the football game Friday night.

Pendleton High hosted Palmetto, and their student body also wore purple in Johnson’s memory. Her friends say it was her favorite color.

There were purple balloons, the Mustangs carried purple flowers as they entered the field—even the sky was purple over the Friday night lights.

Krajus Mansel is a Palmetto High junior and defensive tight end.

“Death is something hard. Everybody goes through hardships. So, I went through denial. And it kind of hurt knowing that KiKi and her family are going through that. And I know how it feels. I’ve lost my sister,” Mansel said.

Mansel knew Kierra through her sister.

“That whole family, I can say they’re just like somebody you want to be around,” said Mansel, “If you didn’t know them, you should have gotten to know them.”

On the field, Pendleton High painted Kierra’s Jersey number—24—on the 24 yard line, in red. And each player had a helmet decal with her number as well. A sea of purple watched them play—home and visitors side.

Brian Couch is the principal of Pendleton High, but he used to work for Palmetto High.

“We play each other almost every year in multiple sports,” Couch continues, “We’re fierce rivals on the fields, but we come together.”

The news of Kierra’s sudden death has broken the hearts of surrounding schools everywhere.

“Anytime you have a situation where a kid goes home and is not feeling well and then, less than a week later, they tragically have passed away, it’s terrible; particularly when it’s an athlete that’s in their prime,” said Couch.

Mansel says while the school’s spirit is somber, it’s also uplifting.

“When we first heard about it, everybody was sad, but I told them, I said, you’ve got to pick your head up,” Mansel said, “God gives his hardest soldiers the toughest battle.”

Palmetto student groups as well as her friends are planning fundraisers to help her family. Pendleton High School took a collection during halftime to donate.

The coroner said Johnson’s death remains under investigation.