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St. John mourns loss of former star ESJH student athlete Shelvin Keller

LAPLACE — Shelvin Keller was a coach’s dream and an even better person.

Shelvin Keller

That is how former East St. John High football coach and mentor Alden Foster describes the ESJH 2018 graduate.

Unfortunately for the greater St. John the Baptist Parish community, Keller died Wednesday evening in a two-vehicle crash on his way home from school at Southwestern College in Kansas.

Keller and college teammate Jacobi Scott were killed as the result of injuries suffered in a crash with an 18-wheeler on Highway 59 near Marshall, Texas.

Foster said Keller was everything you wanted in a kid, “respectful, humble, smart. It’s just alarming, and it’s sad. He was determined to do better. Every time we talked, it was, ‘I love you, Coach. Thank you.’ It was just the person he was.”

Foster said he talked with his former player the last time he was home.

“I like, with my kids, to let them grow up a little bit,” Foster said. “I don’t want them to struggle being away from home. I would talk with him; check up on him. He said he liked it. He’s like my own child. They, your players, all are special to you, but he was a really special kid. We lost a good one. He was a model kid, and other kids should follow the way he lived his life.”

St. John Parish School Board member Shawn Wallace knew Keller as a hard and dedicated worker who was “very unique” and special.

East St. John High School football players, from left, Shelvin Keller, Lonnie Ellis, Prentice Cook, Javon Antonio, Kndrell Holmes, Hoxie Brown and Dasmain Crosby enjoy the show before they are introduced to the crowd at Meet the Wildcats Night in 2017. (Lori Lyons/L’OBSERVATEUR)

“I watched him grow from a sophomore all the way to a senior and watched this young man develop into a stellar athlete,” Wallace said. “I watched how this young man just blossomed as an athlete and blossomed as a student. He was able to move on to the next level and play collegiate football.

“I follow these kids, all of them, and they know me personally just from being around a lot. In the school, he was liked real well by his peers. He was a good person in the classroom and on the football field, as well.”

Southwestern College President Brad Andrews released a statement after Keller’s death saying Keller was a wonderful presence looking forward to the Fall 2019 season.

“This news is distressing — our community is tightly knit, we all share in the tragic loss of these two bright, strong, young men,” Andrews said.

— News editor Brooke Robichaux contributed to this report.