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Garcia’s standout Trojan career lands him with Memphis Tigers

By Thomas Sellers Jr.Garcia All Star run Garcia hat on Garcia Signing Garcia Tiger Graphic

He was the quarterback of a 9-1 District 14-3A championship team.
The next season as a junior LaKeron Garcia had to be one of the inspirational leaders for his team after the death of Dana Payne. This past season, after the graduations Roland Genesy and Antonio Webber, Garcia became the go-to guy for Millington Trojans Head Coach Chris Michaels.
Through it all, Garcia used the lessons he learned from coaches, friends, family and his mother Diane Burnette to preserve. Several parts of Garcia’s support system were on hand May 5 in the Millington Central High School Library for the announcement of the speedster attending the University of Memphis.
“This is going to be a great experience for me,” Garcia said. “I think I can help this program. I hope everything goes as planned.”
Garcia will be the first to tell anyone life doesn’t always go as planned. When he joined the varsity squad in 2011, he was supposed to contribute as a running back. But injuries at the quarterback position thurst the sophomore behind center.
On the brink of the 2012 season, it was during a practice all the members of the Trojans lives changed forever. Wide receiver Payne went out for pass. After he was tackled, Payne started to have trouble breathing. The sophomore later passed away. And when the 2013 season started, Garcia was supposed to be the featured wide receiver. The opening season loss to the Germantown Red Devils made the Trojan coaching staff move Garcia to running back. The next game against Brighton Garcia tallied all five touchdowns in an overtime victory.
“Experiencing the things I’ve seen I just had to become a better person overall,” Garcia said. “Us losing Dana, just made me even stronger as a person. The only thing on my mind was taking my team to the top.”
One of Garcia’s role models of strength is his mother. Burnette graduated from MCHS in 1976. Raising LaKeron is Memphis, Burnette made up her mind when it came time for high school her son was going to be a Trojan.
“I wanted him to graduated from where I graduated from, Millington Central High School,” she said. “I made a promise to myself when he graduated from middle school in Memphis, I was going to get him up there. God made a way.
“I told him to always lift God up,” Burnette continued. “I told him, give Him the praise. If you shine out there on that football field, praise God after you win. Praise Him when you lose. Always praise him.”
Garcia said it was the hands of a higher power that guided him throughout his Trojan career. It was evident that night in Tipton County.
“I give all the thanks to God,” he said. “Before the Brighton game, I just told myself, ‘I’m going to kill them. I’m going to give my all and leave it all out there on the field.’ Brighton is a good football team. They have Big Charles over there. So I wanted to throw them a ‘L’ and show I am a good football player too.”
Burnette was upset not to be in the stands that night, but she said there was a special set of eyes on that game.
“That’s when he saw Dana,” she said. “He said Dana had to be there with five touchdowns.”
Garcia’s standout season earned him a spot on the 2013 AutoZone Liberty Bowl High School All-Star Game roster for the blue team.
“My motivation was since I am out here with all these other good football players,” Garcia recalled, “I want to come out on top. I wanted to make the Trojans proud.”
On the MUS turf that December day, Garcia was the brightest star scoring three touchdowns.
“I cut the radio on and all I’m hearing is, ‘LaKeron Garcia. LaKeron Garcia,’” Burnette recalled. “I got the papers with the game in it. I had it laminated. I’m so proud of my baby.
“I’m so thankful for all his family on his Daddy’s side,” she added. “I couldn’t have gotten this far with him without them. They’re good people and we all had to pull together as one. I thank God for his Daddy being strong in his life.
The son of Louis Garcia Sr., used sports like basketball, track and football as an outlet.
“LaKeron once he gets on the football field he lets it all out,” Burnette said. “Whether he’s on the football field, basketball court or track, he puts all those childish things down and he’s serious. He told me, ‘Mama, when I’m on that football field, I feel no pain.’’
Now the game has brought him joy. Garcia will be reunited with former teammate Alan Cross. While at Memphis, Cross has broken several records for tight ends.
“We’re going to have fun and win,” Garcia said. “Go Tigers, go.
“That’s always been my dream to go D-I,” he concluded. “To finally be there me going to do what I have to do, work hard in the weight room, in and out of the classroom. And it will all show there out on the field.”
After overcoming adversity with his natural talent and the life lessons from his support system, Garcia might be the one ready to usher in a new era of Tiger Football success.
“We’re going to get Memphis back on the map,” Burnette said. “DeAngelo Williams did it and now it’s time for LaKeron Garcia to do that same thing for Memphis. We’re going to shine. All they have to do is give my baby his chance. I know what he can do.”

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June 2014
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