A talented athlete and beloved son, brother and friend is being mourned after he was killed in a horrific car crash on Wednesday in Menifee.
But, Donovan Adams wasn’t just any kid. All who knew him could speak to his skills and dedication on the football field. Those who knew him well offer a more intimate portrait of a young man poised on the brink of great things.
“This was an incredible kid. I need this kid to live on. I need his story to be told,” said Prodigy Athletes founder Troy Lau.
Lau, a Temecula sports trainer who works with student athletes throughout Southwest Riverside, trained Adams for about four years, providing him the physical and mental backbone of a competitor.
“I know this has happened in other communities, but (Prodigy Athletes) is what it is partly because of him. This kid helped build our culture here,” Lau said.
That culture has embraced the motto of finding inspiration within, battling beyond the odds, and competing with indomitable spirit.
Adams graduated from Heritage High School in June of 2011 and recently played football for Fort Lewis College in Durango, Co.
Lau described Adams as a positive person, always with a smile, who from the age of 15 served as a role model among his fellow athletes. He not only accepted the Prodigy Athletes mantra; he embodied it, Lau said.
“I always tell the kids, ‘I cannot always be the one to inspire you. I need you to look at the guy next to you for inspiration and motivation. Donovan was that kid,’” Lau said.
Recounting a contentious moment on the football field when Lau instructed his team not, under any circumstances, to respond to the taunts of the opposing team, Lau said it was Adams who carried out Lau’s orders, demanding the team fall in step.
“He was just a sophomore then,” Lau said, adding that Adams would spout off “Lau-isms” like “If you want to be different, act different.”
Lau was in the middle of a workout when word reached him of the crash. He made frantic dash to the hospital while quickly trying to reach Adams’ fellow athletes before they’d learned the news on Facebook.
“All of his peers were home from college — Bubba Luna, Sia Tua, Chief Goodwin — and were there,” Lau said, adding that the embrace he shared with Adams’ mother was one he would never forget.
“To be with his mother in that vulnerable moment …” Lau said, with emotion.
Lau opened the gym Thursday night for an impromptu memorial where friends and loved ones shared stories — remembering his talents on the field and his cowboys days as a youngster. He said that he’ll continue to encourage the telling of these stories.
Lau said through tears: “We want him to continue to impact lives. So, the way I am going to honor him and celebrate his life is, I am going to love more. And I am going to forgive faster. And I am going to always remember to put kids first.”