‘He always smiled’: Community releases balloons in memory of 18-year-old drowning victim

Jeremiah Roberts passed away Friday after drowning in Moss Lake.
Family and friends gathered together on Sunday to remember Jeremiah Roberts.
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 10:48 PM EDT
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SHELBY, N.C. (WBTV) - Family and friends gathered together on Sunday to remember Shelby High School football player Jeremiah Roberts, who died earlier this week after drowning in Moss Lake.

Witnesses said the 18-year-old jumped into the lake on Friday afternoon and struggled to come back up.

On Sunday, a balloon release was held in memory of Roberts.

His father, Walter, spoke to those in attendance, hoping everyone there can take away something positive from an otherwise tragic situation. He encouraged everyone to live life to the fullest, and to use Jeremiah as their inspiration to keep going.

Jeremiah Roberts died after he drowned in a Cleveland County lake on Friday afternoon.

“He was so sweet,” classmate Abigail Davis said. “He had the biggest heart. He was so respectful. He always smiled. He was always funny. He lit up the room. It’s not going to be the same going back without him.”

Jeremiah’s teammates also remembered him Sunday.

“We won state together,” LaJuan Watkins said. “I ain’t even gonna lie, that was my boy. He wouldn’t want you here crying. He would want you here smiling. He was, you know, filled with energy. He was good to be around.”

A friend, T.J. Griffin, worked to save Jeremiah on Friday, but was sadly unable to.

Hours after Jeremiah entered the water, a dive team recovered his body.

Walter Roberts said his son had planned to join the military after graduating at the end of this school year.

Jeremiah’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses.

Within just one day, they were able to raise more than $8,000. You can support the family by donating here.

Related: Rescue crews recover 18-year-old’s body from Cleveland County lake