DUNCANVILLE — A rising North Texas high school basketball star was suddenly killed over the holiday weekend.
Deion Houston’s car was struck by a train as he drove through a rural Oklahoma crossing Saturday night.
“It’s been difficult,” his father, Stacy Houston, told News 8. “I know he lived life to the fullest. I thank God I had him for 17 years — he was a great kid.”
Deion was visiting family in Duncan, Oklahoma, for the Fourth of July weekend. His father said he was returning to a relative’s home after running an errand.
Deion had driven over the crossing countless times. It does not have gates or flashing lights. Stacy Houston said the Union Pacific train conductor told him the teenager wasn’t speeding, and actually slowed down.
“I think he looked left and then moved forward while looking right, and by then the train was already on him,” the teen's father said. “I just don’t understand why you would not have blinking lights, at least.”
The impact dragged the teenager’s car for several blocks.
“Deion was the kind of kid to hold the door open for 10 total strangers," said family friend Jammy Green. "That's the way he was brought up; he was just that caring kid.”
Deion was approaching his junior year at Duncanville High School, where he played point guard.
Friends described him as a star player and one of the region’s top recruits. His coaches said he was already fielding scholarship offers from several colleges.
“We're devastated; everybody's devastated,” said Mitch Malone, who runs the Texas Bluechips, an elite amateur basketball program for students. “This kid is probably the most popular basketball player in the Metroplex.”
Deion played in the off-season for the Bluechips-Navy team, which his father coached.
“I always remembered when I walked into the gym he had a big grin on his face,” said former coach Robert Erger. “Outside basketball, people you might not consider 'significant,' he treated them significantly.”
On Thursday, Deion practiced with the team ahead of the annual Great American Shoot-Out tournament the team is scheduled to play in on Friday.
“A few days ago we were laughing and playing together, and just like that he's gone,” said teammate Marc Brown, who has been playing basketball with Houston for more than four years. “He’s a great person, great ball player, and friends with everybody.”
Deion's family said he frequently volunteered coaching younger kids.
Kaelen Malone, 15, called Deion his best friend. Deion often mentored the young basketball player and helped him improve his game.
“I treated him like a brother,” Kaelen said. “He’s not blood, but we couldn't be any closer… you can't replace some of the things he did for people and for me.”
Deion is survived by his father, Stacy Houston; mother, Reshonda Jackson-Houston; sister, Seqoua Jackson-Houston; and two nieces. Stacy Houston said his son’s funeral will be this week at Golden Gate Funeral Home in Dallas. Arrangements are pending.
The Dallas Morning News contributed to this report.