The loss of two Trotwood High School students is another devastating blow to a city and student body still reeling from tornadoes, COVID-19 and the death of another Trotwood student in a vehicle crash about 16 months ago, Mayor Mary McDonald said Thursday.
She said she was moved by the outpouring of student support Wednesday night at Little Richmond and Olive Road, where Michael “Big Mike” Stephens, a standout offensive lineman on the 2019 state champion team, his cousin and fellow 2020 Ram alum Elgin Wilson IV and Dayton resident Leah Smith were killed in a two-vehicle accident.
“I didn’t sleep at all last night. So many things have been left out for them. No graduation. No prom....,” she said of the school’s student body. “This is the second big accident in the last year and a half” involving a Trotwood student, she said, referring to Mya’nie Nabors, killed in a collision on Free Pike and state Route 49 involving a car she was in and an RTA bus in March 2019.
McDonald told News Center 7's Mike Campbell she was moved to write an open letter to the young people of Trotwood.
"I want them to know that as a mayor, I am here for them and I care about them. I wanted them to know that at the highest level in the city of Trotwood, our hearts are with them."
Kerry Ivy, position coach for Stephens, told the players who gathered at the accident scene to find faith in God and to pray for the families of all the victims, including 19-year-old Antonion Ward, himself a 2019 Trotwood alum and driver of the car Stephens and Wilson were in, as well as for Smith, and her 3-year-old passenger who survived the carnage.
Ivy said he and Stephens had a particularly close bond -- so close, Ivy said, that Stephens called him "Dad."
Big Mike, as he was called throughout the community, was an excellent student and mannerable young man, Ivy said.
“He was a well-raised kid. It was yes sir, no sir, yes mam, no mam,” the coach recalled.
Ivy recalled that Stephens was one of the first students out with him and head coach Jeff Graham, cleaning up the neighborhood after the 2019 Memorial Day tornado outbreak.
Stephens started his sophomore year (2016) until he tore an ACL, Ivy said, but battled his way back to play in the 2017 state championship game.
He got in the game for one play - "I told him not to get hurt," Ivy recalled.
The next two years, Stephens was a starter and was a huge factor in Trotwood-Madison winning the 2019 state championship, the coach said.
"He was such a great leader for this team," Ivy said. "The young guys looked up to him."
Stephens had been offered a football scholarship to attend Ohio Dominican in Columbus, Ivy said.
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