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‘He loved life and football’

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One of Bermuda's promising young footballers whose life was this week cut short by a medical complication has been acclaimed as a sterling example for other athletes to follow.

Somerset Trojans midfielder Jahi Simmons, 24, was “a no-nonsense player who put in 100 percent — his teammates should take heed of that and dedicate the rest of the season to him”, former coach Dennis Brown told The Royal Gazette.

Family recalled him as a tenacious, thoughtful player with a bright future in the game.

Gathered last night at the family's Warwick home, mother Akanke Simmons-Butterfield said her son, who died at Boston's Lahey Clinic on Wednesday, was “driven — that's what made him so good on the field, being able to think how he did”.

A plumber at the nearby Island Engineering Limited, Mr Simmons was born and raised in Somerset.

Stepson to Asim Butterfield, Mr Simmons and his sister Talibah Simmons lost their birth father Randolph Outerbridge at an early age.

Mr Outerbridge perished in a fishing accident in 1993, when the vessel Simply Red flipped in high seas. Also lost in that tragedy were Mr Outerbridge's brother Jeffrey, and friend George Minks.

Mr Simmons went on to play for the Southampton Rangers as a teen, but so impressed scouts from the Somerset Trojans that they enticed him over to the team where he remained.

Added Ms Simmons-Butterfield: “I always used to tease him — his daddy was a staunch PHC fan, and he never played for them.”

Her son, she said, “cared for his family, loved life and loved football” — and revered “every coach that taught him”.

“Every single game was a big deal to him. Training sessions, he was even more serious. He was funny and enjoyed life, but he was very, very disciplined.”

He and girlfriend Swayneisha Berkeley had recently returned from a trip together to New York when Mr Simmons succumbed to an internal blockage.

Mr Brown last night said the news of his passing had been “totally devastating to me — I can still picture his face.

“Even though I went on to coach for Devonshire Cougers, we still had a great relationship, still had that respect for each other.”

Recalling how spectators in Somerset would wonder why Mr Simmons always seemed to be on the field, Mr Brown praised the young player's extraordinary work ethic as one of his defining characteristics.

“His future was a bright one, if the Lord would have allowed him to continue,” he added. “He gave his all, right to the end.”

Memorial services are planned for the Southampton Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and at St James' Church in Sandys, his mother said.

Mr Simmons is survived also by brothers Ade and Atwa, and sister Ashuna.

Jahi Simmons
Jahi Simmons

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Published October 12, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 12, 2013 at 12:16 am)

‘He loved life and football’

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