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Antonio Webber Male Athlete of the Year

By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Millington Star Sports Editor Thomas Sellers Jr. presents Antonio Webber with the 2013 Male Athlete of the Year Award.

Millington Star Sports Editor Thomas Sellers Jr. presents Antonio Webber with the 2013 Male Athlete of the Year Award.

Athlete of Year Webber

Life has humbled Antonio Webber.
Despite trials and tribulations, the 18-year old was able to participate in three sports during his senior season at Millington Central High School. And with more than 1,400 yards rushing, and being a contributor in basketball and soccer, Webber was named the 2013 Millington Star Male Athlete of the Year.
For years people in the community could see Webber’s greatness and potential. And although awards and a scholarship to Bethel College for football have validated his hard work, Webber is surprised when people know who he is.
“One day when I was at work at Chick-Fil-A, the kid pointed at me and said, ‘Hey, that’s Antonio Webber,’” Webber recalled. “He was so excited to meet me. I felt like I became the next Millington Football legend.”
Following in the lines of Ahmaad Galloway, Marlon Barnes, Travis Simpson, Eric Knowlton and his former teammate Roland Genesy, Webber became the face of Millington Football’s running game.
And his rushing totals and touchdowns helped the Trojans win the 2011 District 14-3A title and reach the second round of the playoffs this past season.
As a four-year letterman on the basketball team and taking on the challenge of soccer, Webber stood out from the rest to win The Star’s top male athlete honor.
“It feels wonderful knowing that I became No. 1 out of all the athletes that’s around here,” Webber said. “I set my goals stronger than they were back then. It’s just wonderful being on top and it makes me feel more confident in myself going to the next level. Hopefully that next level, I will be one of the freshmen All-American. I’m setting my goals to reach that point.
“Knowing all these athletes you have to go against, like kids from Munford and Brighton, it’s a lot of athletes who did more than me,” he continued. “Just knowing that I’m the top male, and I’m No. 1, it just makes me want to cry.”
Webber has had to fight back tears many times after the passing of his mother in 2005.
“I knew that my Mom would be there for me,” he said “I’m glad that she had me to be on this earth. Without her, I wouldn’t even be at this point. She’s guiding me right now in everything I do. She said even if she’s not on this earth, I’m going to always be beside you. I know she has been there with me ever since the day she passed.”
If Moneca has been an guardian angel on her son’s side all these years, her job intensified this past year with Webber enduring more loses.
“I had to overcome the things that were trying to hold me back,” he said. “But my grandma and family members weren’t going to let them hold me back. My grandma had to go through a lot of things. She’s in a mental facility.
“Knowing the things she had to do to help herself out,” Webber continued. “She had to take medication to stay strong. I had to deal with the fact she used to burn things in the house. She had a medical breakdown that she couldn’t control. She let that out on my auntie. After that things just happened and my Auntie is in Heaven. I had to put all of that aside although it still hurts me. But I still have to continue what I have to do to be a successful man. That’s what I have to do.”
Suffering another death in his home life, tragdey found it’s way in Webber’s athletic life. On Aug. 21 Webber was nearby when his teammate Dana Payne was tackled. Payne’s breathing was labored and he later passed away that night.
“That’s the No. 1 thing,  you have to set high goals as far as being a leader,” Webber noted. “That was always in my expectations to be a leader. Dana Payne always looked up to me as a big brother. He wanted to be like me and be the next man to set the goals of being Mr. Football.
“Althought I didn’t get it, I set that goal to be that,” he continued. “So I knew I had to be there to pick up my teammates. We had to be there for his family. If we never would have lost Dana, we would have went further than we did this season. Dana was an important part of this team. So when you lose a brother, you lose a big part of your team.”
Never really getting over the loss of Payne, the Trojans were able to go 6-6 on the season and win a playoff game over Brighton. Millington’s football season came to an end in a 24-23 overtime defeat to the Germantown Red Devils. But it appeared for a moment the Red Devils were going to cruise to victory.
“I did what I could for the family,” Webber recalled that night. “I wished I could have played the first quarter. I was worried about my knee. When I did get in, I did all I could to help bring us back.
“When we were down 17-6, I knew I had to do what I had to do. It’s never too late to bring a team back,” he continued. “All you have to do is have trust and faith. My teammates knew I was going to do what I could. When I went into that locker room I told them, ‘Don’t worry about it, I’m going to help bring us back. We’re about to come back.’ I knew it was a team and my family was going to help me.”
Football provided Webber with new family members and the game always provided him with a an emotional lift he’d been searching for.
“Football means a lot to me,” he said. “I feel like it’s my ticket out of here. The fact that I was in love with basketball when I was a baby, I started with basketball. That was my first time playing organzied football with Millington Metro, I was 14. I just fell in love with that.
“I kept telling my coaches I’m going to get there,” Webber continued. “And they told me they believe me. I put hard work into football every chance I get. I just love it. It’s a fun experience. I know that whenever I get older, I’m going to have to meet my favorite running back Adrian Peterson. I want to be like him. Matter of fact, I want to be better than him. I’m going to set my goals to go higher than him. I know I can. All it takes is effort and hard work.”
Peterson wears the No. 28 for the Minnesota Vikings and he was a less than 10 yards shy this past NFL season from setting an all-time single season rushing record.
Peterson had to endure personal struggles before playing for University of Oklahoma and reaching the NFL. He said athletics has always been a welcome escape for him.
Webber has used sports to help him stay on a straight path in life. Although he was named to the Liberty Bowl All-Star Game and Tennessee/Kentucky Border Bowl in December, Webber wasn’t going to stop playing the sport he grew up loving.
“Basketball means a lot to me,” he said. “I didn’t get to play as much in my senior year than I did in my junior year. They looked to me a lot in my junior year.
“Basketball, it seemed coach didn’t want me to get hurt because he knew I had a football scholarship,” Webber added. “But in basketball, I had a lot of my brothers from football come and play with me. I’m proud of all my brothers. We started with winning the championship as freshmen. We never gave up. I’m happy to see all my brothers doing something.”
Webber was known as the buffest shooting guard in the Memphis area. During his time on the hardwood for Millington, he was a part of the Shelby County Freshmen championship team and helped the Trojans finish in the top four of the league each year.
To finish out his senior year and Trojan athletic career, Webber joined the Trojan Soccer team. He was encouraged by Head Coach Larry Dagen to give the sport a try.
“I wish I had played soccer more than this one year,” he acknowledged. “I enjoyed it. Coach kept telling me I had touch. He said anybody can kick the ball but I had touch.”
Webber displayed natural abilities for the game and used his speed and strength to be a one-man wall on defense.
“I have more brothers now from playing soccer,” he said. “I love those guys. It was a great experience.”
Now Webber will use all his experiences from wearing the black and gold in three sports as he prepares for his next sports chapter. And the Millington product said he will keep those he lost in his heart to motivate him to more success.
“It’s time to put the boy away,” he concluded. “It’s time to bring the man out. I have been through a lot and had many support me to get to this point. It’s time for me to work even harder to reach my new goals. I want to make Millington proud and all those who helped me here and gone.”

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June 2013
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