HARKER HEIGHTS -- The heavy bass and powerful drums of J. Cole’s Farewell filled the air Wednesday as hundreds lit candles to honor the memory of Joseph Alaniz in a vigil held on the Harker Heights practice field.
Alaniz, a 2014 Heights graduate, died in a car accident early Tuesday morning that also left one of his former teammates and classmates, Dre’Quan Myers, in critical condition in a Williamson County hospital.
Earlier Wednesday evening the real J. Cole, Alaniz’s favorite rapper, responded to a groundswell of support for Alaniz on Twitter by mentioning him in a tweet.
“I’m sorry to hear about your homie that passed away,” Cole wrote, “RIP Joe. I’m sure he’s somewhere smiling knowing he got friends like you. Love.”
Many of Alaniz’s football teammates wore Heights’ home football jerseys, and Marcus Anderson II, who ran behind Alaniz as the Knights’ running back, opened the ceremony in prayer.
Following Anderson, Robert Hagey, who coached Alaniz on the offensive line, addressed the crowd to talk about one of his favorite players.
“I was with the family yesterday, and I was talking with Joe’s dad,” Hagey said. “And Joe’s dad said, ‘Coach, God takes the good ones early.’
“God got a great one when he got Joe.”
Former teammates and classmates Andy Fraser and Brandon Cook, who were in the vehicle with Alaniz when the accident happened, followed Hagey as speakers.
Heights head football coach Jerry Edwards, who’d worked with Alaniz at his football camp just two weeks earlier, and Heights principal Larry Brazzil then followed.
The crowd was then asked to light candles as J. Cole’s Farewell began to pour out of the speakers. Black, red and white balloons were released into the air while Alaniz’s closest friends, who stood just behind his family in the front row, embraced where they had just spoken.
Alaniz was 18 years old and a two-year starter for the Knights on the offensive line. He earned All-District 8-5A first-team honors his senior year.