For friends and family members of Steve McElvene, the reality of his death hit home Friday, eight days after he collapsed at his family’s home.
Hundreds stood in line at a visitation for the Dayton Flyers center at Abundant Life Church in McElvene’s hometown. Many wore T-shirts with photos of “Big Steve” on the front. Some posed with a life-sized cardboard cutout of McElvene in the lobby.
The 20-year-old University of Dayton student who stood 6-feet 11 inches had dreams of playing in the NBA. The New Haven High School graduate spoke to three classes of students one day before his death. One of the mourners was Dayton women’s basketball player JaVonna Layfield, who rode to Fort Wayne in a bus with other student athletes and administrators. She and McElvene finished their second year at UD earlier this month. She said he was her best friend.
“People will remember that smile,” Layfield said. “Oh, that smile. That laugh, just his personality, the person he was. You couldn’t miss him. He was the biggest person on campus. He made everyone around him better.”
Dayton coach Archie Miller, his staff and McElvene’s teammates on Saturday will travel to Fort Wayne for the 11 a.m. funeral at Abundant Life Church.