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Hundreds celebrate the life of footballer Marco Warren

Hundreds pay their last respects at the Marco Warren homegoing service at the Bermuda Institute (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Raw anguish at the loss of Marco Warren mingled with treasured memories of a young father, mentor and acclaimed sportsman whose life was cut short in the early hours of May 14.

The 29-year-old captain of the PHC football team died on Mother’s Day after a suspected hit-and-run whose perpetrators have yet to come forward, 18 days after he was found fatally injured in North Shore Road in Hamilton Parish.

Family, team-mates and former teachers at the Bermuda Institute honoured his memory at a service before more than 800 people in the school’s packed gym.

Sisters Zianna and Chelsea Warren paid tribute to their brother — and Kalay Hollis, his girlfriend, told of their life together with their baby son, Vega, born in January.

Ms Hollis told how “getting that call made my heart drop” as she prepared to celebrate her first Mother’s Day.

“My only wish for that day was to celebrate with you and Vega, my little family,” she said.

The couple’s wish was to make their son’s life “the best one yet”, she said.

“One thing that I will always let Vega know is that he had two loving parents who were ready to enjoy life with him.

“I will always talk to him about his dad and how much his dad loved him and how happy we both were when it came to raising our little prince.”

The two were “were more than just two people in love”, she said.

“We were two imperfect people in a loving friendship. Marco and I were inseparable.”

Zianna Warren said that her brother was “not just a legendary footballer to me”.

“He was a brother first and foremost, a teacher, a leader, a freestyle rapper, a fisherman, an artist, dancer and, best all, a legend.

“Never in a million years would I think I would have to write a tribute to my one and only brother. I have been struggling to write it because I do believe Marco’s work was not finished on this earth.”

Chelsea Warren spoke of how her brother was a “giant” who cherished “thoughtfulness, he valued time, he valued family”.

A gifted graphic artist, Mr Warren designed the logo for his sister’s athletic wear business, Uptimum Bodied, and became “my business partner, my right-hand man”.

She told the ceremony that her brother was an example of “how to live in your purpose”.

“Let this be motivation, to find your purpose,” Ms Warren said.

“Purpose is based on helping one another. Purpose is based on how many people you’ve touched.

“My brother was a great man. I often told him he was a legend, but Marco, being the humble man he was, would always just chuckle.”

Mr Warren, known to friends as “Sparky”, was a rising star at the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation, and one youngster called him “the best mentor I ever had, from kindergarten through fifth grade”.

“He always had a good, positive vibe, which was very encouraging. Anyone who knew him would say the same thing.”

In an emotional tribute to his “baby cousin”, Antwan Russell told of how the youngster showed instant promise in sports, surprising his family by winning a game of mini-golf at 5.

“At that moment, I knew how special a kid he was,” Mr Russell said.

He told the gathering that he struggled to come to terms with the circumstances of his cousin’s death.

“I pray to find peace,” he said.

“I do not wish anything good on the person that took Marco away. I am angry and I am heartbroken.”

Randy Bean, his grandfather, brought moments of laughter.

“My grandson was not an ordinary young man,” Mr Bean said, describing his numerous sports awards up to the match where he ended up getting carded.

“That trophy eluded him,” Mr Bean said, adding that in the deep Seventh-day Adventist faith he shared with family and friends, Mr Warren “gets that crown of life — it outweighs every other”.

Lawyer Jeffrey Elkinson, who knew Mr Warren from the football pitch, described how an opposing team balked at playing against them because “this little kid would get hurt”.

“When Marco started playing, they had another reason not to want to play with us,” Mr Elkinson said, noting his “God-given talents”.

“As he got older, they only got more honed with the passage of time.”

Former teachers told the ceremony, with parents Dwight and Wendie, of Mr Warren’s capacity for touching the lives of others and his devotion as a new father.

Teacher Rohan Davis said: “The fact that Marco touched so many lives, not only in Bermuda but outside, is testament to the individual he was.”

Mr Davis added: “Today, the Bermuda Institute has lost a soldier.”

Mark Wade, the president of the Bermuda Football Association, described Mr Warren as “a cerebral player” who was “always thinking, on and off the pitch”.

“He was loyal. PHC was the only club for him. He was respectful. I can speak on that myself because he challenged what is and what was with respect.”

Mr Wade told of how Mr Warren could be seen moving his lips while playing because he was “talking to his family” even while concentrating on the game.

“He was brought up in the right parish, played for the right team and the right country.

“God does not make mistakes. He gave us this gift for a purpose — to challenge us, to lead us, to give us vision.”

Police have appealed for anyone with information to contact investigating officer DeForest Evans on 717-0860 or by e-mail at devans@bps.bm.

Information can be given anonymously via the police community reporting portal online.

Tips can also be provided to the independent and confidential Crime Stoppers hotline, 800-8477, or through the Crime Stoppers Bermuda website.

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Published June 02, 2023 at 8:00 am (Updated June 02, 2023 at 9:22 am)

Hundreds celebrate the life of footballer Marco Warren

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