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Student-athlete killed in car accident will have jersey retired by Detroit Pershing

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Detroit Pershing football coach Ralph Sewell was feeling good about things Saturday afternoon after his team defeated Detroit CMA 36-0 to push its record to the .500 mark (2-2).

After all, Pershing’s win total surpassed the last two year’s combined (1-17) and had already equaled the 2017 mark (2-7).

But Sewell’s emotions quickly changed to heartbreak with the news that Pershing student-athlete Ga’heime Griffin died from a fatal single-car accident while returning from his job at the Detroit McDonald’s at Eight Mile and Dequindre early Tuesday morning.

Griffin was a passenger in the vehicle with two other Pershing students and co-workers. The other students are recovering from non-life threatening injuries, according to a memorial fundraiser page set up for Griffin’s family.

“This was his senior year and he did it all, played football, basketball, baseball, ROTC,” Sewell told The Detroit News on Thursday. “He was a role player, played some defensive end, linebacker and receiver, was a great locker room kid, kept the guys up, kept the morale up, was almost like a coach out here with us.

“He was a great kid and that’s what’s so unfortunate about all of this. Really, he was what you’d want one of your sons to be, just did everything we asked of him. He was a great leader and all the kids looked up to him and respected him, even the staff respected him.

“We knew he planned on going to go to college, just wasn’t sure where. He was a great leader with ROTC and things like that so we weren’t really concerned because we knew if he didn’t do nothing athletic-wise for a scholarship that he would be all set otherwise academically,” Sewell said, noting that Griffin was an honor roll student.

Pershing’s players are taking the loss of Griffin hard.

“Some of the guys were very close to him basketball-wise and football-wise, but they are really looking forward to playing today’s game in dedication to his memory,” Sewell said. “They want to win this game for Ga’heime.”

Pershing plays host to Detroit Northwestern this afternoon at 4 p.m.

“We’re going to retire his jersey at halftime, around 5:30,” Sewell said.