BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The mother of former LSU basketball player Wayde Sims was spotted helping to ease anxiety for members of the school’s football team and fans ahead of the highly anticipated first football game of the 2019 season against Georgia Southern University.
Among the crowds welcoming the team to the stadium was Fay Sims, holding a sign displaying the words “Free Hugs” and “Hashtag Forever44.”
Wayde Sims wore number 44 while playing for LSU, before being tragically killed in a shooting Friday, Sept. 28, 2018. Sims was 20 years old at the time of his death.
Wayde Sims’ family has since carried on his legacy by creating the Wayde Forever 44 Fund, which is an emotional support dog fund for LSU students. The Wayde Forever 44 Fund also aims to help students with the sometimes hidden costs of having an emotional support animal, such as application fees, deposits at housing facilities, and boarding costs when students need to travel.
Sims was remembered by many as a dedicated student.
“He helped other students. He tried his best and he was always respectful,” said his 7th-grade teacher, Barbara Benton. “This could be the description of an average student, but Wayde wasn’t average.”
He was remembered as a talented basketball player.
“He was very charismatic. He had that ‘it factor’. We saw it early on,” said Joe Spencer, his high school basketball coach.
“Not one time has he missed a practice, not one time. Not one time did he miss a workout,” said LSU basketball head coach, Will Wade.
Friends say the 20-year-old carried his sense of compassion and humor to the court—later leading his high school team to three state championships.
Former LSU basketball coach Johnny Jones said the young basketball star was adamant about wearing number 44. It was the same number his father, Wayne Sims, wore as an LSU standout.
“He was a blast to be around at all times. We’re devastated and in shock. We’re going to support Wayde’s family and our guys,” said Will Wayde after Sims’ death.
Former LSU Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Joe Alleva said the news of Sims’ death marked the saddest day in his 40-year career in collegiate athletics.
“Wayde Sims’ loss is simply unbelievable to us right now,” Alleva said in a release from the university.
“There are no words that can express our sorrow for his parents and family. He was such a lovable young man who was full of joy. We are circling around his teammates and friends who need all the love and support we can give them. We are praying for his family, for his parents. God bless Wayde Sims.”
School officials and teams from across the nation also sent their condolences after learning of Sims’ death.