New Year’s Eve proved to be a sad night for Cleveland Central High School as student-athlete Larry Tyler III died from an apparent accidental shooting.
According to Cleveland Police Chief Buster Bingham, officers were called to Bolivar Medical Center in Cleveland about 10 p.m. in regards to a gunshot victim.
When they arrived they learned Tyler had a single wound to the back.
He later died from the injury and as of presstime police were still investigating.
“It’s a sad and tragic incident whenever a young person loses their life. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family at this time,” said Bingham.
The Bolivar Commercial will have more as the story develops.
Tyler, 17, was in his junior year of high school and played running back for the Wolves during its first season of football.
High School Principal Dr. Randy Grierson said Tyler’s death was shocking and tragic.
“I soon as I found out, I went straight to the hospital,” Grierson said. “I was in shock. “It’s one of those things that you never think will happen or don’t think can happen and then it happened. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve had to deal with in my career. It’s not easy to deal with especially happening to a young man unexpectedly. It makes it a lot harder.”
Cleveland Central head football coach Ricky Smither said Tyler was a true competitor that will be missed.
“He had no fear,” Smither said. “He wasn’t scared of anything. He took everyday as a challenge to make himself better. He loved Cleveland Central. He really did. His teammates are going to miss him. I’m going to miss him. The coaching staff is going to miss him. The principal, Dr. Grierson, loved him to death. It’s a huge loss. Not only on the football field but in the school and the community.”
Smither said Tyler had a tremendous work ethic with a positive attitude.
“Larry lit up the room when he walked in,” Smither said. “He didn’t say a lot. He was just a really good kid. Anytime he came to the building, he was ready to work. Anytime he went to practice, he was ready to work. He was just a dynamic young man. People loved being around him. He always had a big smile on his face and came to work and did what he had to do.”
At 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, Tyler was never the biggest player on the field as he had to find holes running through opposing defenses that had players weighing anywhere from 250 to well over 300 pounds.
Tyler, whom was affectionately known as Little Larry and Larro by players and Mighty Mouse by coach Smither, overcame the odds many times.
He was named first team All-Region 2-5A and was a Bolivar Commercial All-Area selection. His production was key in Cleveland Central finishing its first year 12-1 with a Region 2-5A Title.
“At times, he was the glue that held us together,” Smither said. “His performance on the field and at practice, everybody knew that when he touched the ball there was a possibility of him scoring. That was a big impact. He was one of the smallest, but he was one of the strongest guys we had. He’s going to be missed, plus he was a junior and was coming back. He was probably one of the better backs in the state of Mississippi. That part will be missed, but the biggest part is his on campus awareness and everybody just loved to be around Little Larry.”
Along with his work on the field, Tyler was an honor student in the classroom.
Grierson said Tyler was a great model at the school.
“He was just a remarkable kid,” Grierson said. “He resembled what a student-athlete really was. He had a very bright future. He was very respectful and hard working. There are not enough good things you can say about him. He was just a true competitor and a well-rounded young man. I wish I had about 927 just like him. He was just a great person to be around.
“All of his teachers spoke about how highly intelligent he was. He did well on the ACT. He was just a well rounded young man.”
As a sophomore, Tyler was an athletic standout for East Side as he competed in football, baseball and track. He aided the football team in a 2016 campaign that saw that Trojans go 12-2 with a trip to the third round of the 3A State Playoffs.
In the spring of 2017, he was one of East Side’s top hitters in baseball, as he helped guide the Trojans to a 20-10 record with a Region 3-3A Title.
He competed in the long jump at the 3A State Track and Field Meet for the East Side track team. Tyler was also set to play baseball and run track for the Wolves this year.
Cleveland Central assistant football coach Kendrick Woodard, who was East Side’s head football coach and head boys’ track coach said, “He was a great kid.
“He was quiet and humble. Looking at his size, you think you wouldn’t get a lot out of him but when it came to being competitive on the field he had one of the biggest hearts I’ve ever seen. For someone to be that small and compete the way he did was just an amazing thing. He was a good kid all around.”
Woodard said Tyler was an attraction when he competed in track.
“I remember going down to the state track meet,” Woodard said. “He was the smallest thing down there, but people were gathering around to see the little guy from East Side do the long jump. He was one of the most explosive kids I’ve ever seen to be that small. It’s just a sad loss for all of us. I enjoyed coaching him for the years that I did. It was only 17 years but for those few years he was here he give it his all.”
Grierson said there are plans in the works to help students at deal with the loss of Tyler.
“All of our counselors will be available to the kids,” Grierson said. “We’ll have a centralized location. We’re actually meeting tomorrow (Wednesday) to discuss where that’s going to take place. We have several pastors that are going to be available and some other community members that will be available that may know the family. We’ve had a lot of support just being willing to help do whatever.”