DALLAS — Hundreds of local athletes and their families are preparing to say a very public goodbye to a local basketball star.
Deion Houston died Saturday when his car was struck by a freight train in Oklahoma.
On Monday, leaders in the youth basketball community said his family is trying to take the unusual step of holding his wake at a local high school because mourners from around the state are expected.
"He was the little kid on the court with the big basketball making all the shots that the bigger kids couldn't make," said Tamara Marshall, a family friend. "That's the very first time I met him."
Deion was only six years old then, but already basketball was his passion — and his future. He and Tamara Marshall's son, Jordan, talked just last week about their dreams of going all the way to the NBA.
"He was going to buy his dad a gym, because he's helped so many kids in the community who didn't really have a way out," Marshall said.
"He was very competitive," Jordan Marshall added. "He didn't like to lose."
Deion was just beginning to explore colleges, touring SMU with Adria's Jenkins' son last week. "As parents, we look at this and say, 'This could have been my kid.' This really could have happened to anybody," she said.
While these players and parents knew Deion from his place on the Texas Bluechips, an elite team, he was also a star player at Duncanville High School.
"He was definitely going places," Jenkins said. "Ask people in state, in the nation — he was one of the highly-ranked players."
Deion's father has expressed outrage that the railroad crossing where his son died was not guarded by gates and warning signal lights. He wants to see changes, and has indicated he may publicly push for that.
But for now, the family is staying out fo the public eye, spending Monday planning their 17-year-old son's funeral.