JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hundreds of people packed a Jacksonville church Tuesday to celebrate the life of Otis Anderson Jr.
The 23-year-old former University of Central Florida and University Christian football star was shot and killed last week. His father is facing charges in his death.
Southside Church of Christ was filled to capacity Tuesday with family, friends, fraternity brothers, coaches and members of the community as they honored the life of “Juice,” as Otis Anderson Jr. was known -- after his O.J. moniker. The emotional memorial included songs, words of encouragement and a tribute to Anderson’s mom and extended family.
“I understand our heart is mourning, but I don’t miss the moment of celebrating his life,” said Bishop Demetris Pressley, telling those who knew the beloved football standout that they must push through this painful moment.
Anderson’s casket was covered in his fraternity colors and letters. His body resting behind a Los Angeles Rams football helmet, flanked by framed jerseys and surrounded by football pictures and memorabilia. His passion for the sport clearly front and center.
His former University Christian football coach David Penland III reflected on Anderson’s life.
“You were on this Earth for a short time, and in that short time, Otis lived his best life. Life is short, death is sure, sin is the cause, Christ is the cure. Life is but a vapor and it is here for a little while,” Penland said.
Another one of Anderson’s coaches, Josh Heupel, who led the Knights when Anderson was at UCF, said “Juice” shined both on and off the field.
“You’ll be remembered forever,” Heupel said. “You always will be loved, and the greatest testimony of your life, moving forward, is that we will always have a piece of you going with us. Love you.”
UCF administrators presented the Anderson family with a special football signed by many of his closest teammates. The choir sang songs of praise in the midst of their great grief.
Anderson’s body was carried out of the church by some of his friends, family and fraternity members, before being transported by a horse and buggy to his final resting place.
“It’s a tough time right now. They lost a brother. They lost a teammate. They lost a best friend,” UCF Associate Athletics Director Carlos McCants said. “Right now, everyone is having a hard time just dealing with it.”
There was also a strong showing of officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at the service. Anderson’s mother, who was also injured in the shooting, is a corrections officer.
Otis Anderson Sr. told police he shot his wife and son in self-defense during an argument.