STAFFORD, TX (KTRK) --From the field where he played and coached to the stands, hundreds remembered a coach and young man they say they will never forget.
Senior Stafford Spartans catcher Anthony Montiova said, "Being transparent. He always told us the truth no matter what the situation was, even if it hurt us, or made us feel better. I can't thank him enough."
It was balloons, not baseballs, filling the sky over Spartan field tonight. When Michael Mesa was named head baseball coach for Stafford, his own alma mater, he was one of the youngest to play that role in Texas. The 26-year-old also coached middle school football.
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He died Friday night after a game of paintball with his family.
Laura Nguyen, Mesa's finacee said, "I lost the man I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with, but you see all his brothers that come around and they are here to be a father to my son and guide him down the route that Mike would have wanted him to go down. I'm very grateful. I couldn't have been with a better man."
At home, he was known as a great father to his two-year-old son, but on the field there were so many more who also looked up to him.
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Coach Sergio Hinojosa said, "He taught character traits to his kids, to everybody that was around him. What made him special was he didn't just talk about it, he lived it himself and demonstrated it through his actions. You don't find kids like that."
His jersey is now retired and his footprints on the field won't be forgotten.
Aurora Mata's son was a childhood friend of Mesa's. Mata said, "Michael was a great man. He lived up to everything that he said he was doing. Very respectful, always would strive to do right in life and he set an example for everybody."
Grief counselors will be available for students at Stafford tomorrow along with therapy dogs to help those affected grieve.
An autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of Mesa's sudden death.