HUNTINGTON - Marshall University's football family is mourning the loss of one of its brothers.
Sophomore defensive tackle Lawrence "Larry" Aaron III, 19, passed away Thursday at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Maryland, following complications with treatment stemming from a Jan. 1 gunshot wound that left him paralyzed.
"Marshall University lost a very special young man today and it has shocked and saddened us all," a statement released by Marshall head coach Doc Holliday said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all of Larry Aaron's family and friends, many of whom were his fellow Thundering Herd teammates. His loss will be felt in every corner of our program and his spirit will never be forgotten."
Holliday met with the team Wednesday afternoon to alert them of Aaron's change in condition and several Thundering Herd teammates made the trip to Maryland to be by their brother's side in hopes of a change in the situation. Those teammates had been by his side at the time of his injury as well.
On Jan. 1, Anne Arundel County police officers responded to a call at a residence on Bastille Road in Severn, Maryland, at 1:01 a.m. There, a 19-year-old male (Aaron) and a 17-year-old male were both shot.
The injuries were not thought to be life-threatening at the time, and Aaron's mother, Melissa Aaron, confirmed that evening that her son was paralyzed from the gunshot.
"It is in his spine and he has no feeling in his legs," Melissa Aaron told The Herald-Dispatch. "They can't remove it because they are afraid it could be dangerous and hinder him even more to do so. It is right in the middle of his spine."
It later became known that Larry Aaron III was shot after throwing his body in front of his girlfriend, who was attending a party with him, to protect her once the shots rang out at the residence.
Larry Aaron Jr., father of Larry Aaron III, said later in an interview that the heroic action spoke volumes about his son's caring and demeanor.
"That's just a testament to how Larry is," Larry Aaron Jr. said. "That's his mind set, and his instincts took over. The first thing he thought of was to protect his girlfriend. That's just how he is and the type of person he is."
Following his injuries, Larry Aaron III was transferred to the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopaedic Institute to start rehabilitation.
He stayed at the center until being released and going home Feb. 8, according to his father's social media account.
The 6-foot-5, 272-pound defensive tackle from Columbia, Maryland, recorded 13 tackles, including 0.5 tackles for loss, in eight games for the Herd during his redshirt freshman season in 2017. That included a tackle in the Herd's 31-28 win over Colorado State in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl on Dec. 16.
Aaron was from the same hometown as the late J.T. Rembert, a former Marshall standout at linebacker from 2001-04. Both Rembert and Aaron came to Marshall from Oakland Mills High School.
Marshall's athletic department has a previously scheduled fundraiser set for Saturday's Marshall men's basketball game against Charlotte. From 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday, members of the Marshall athletics family will be on the Cam Henderson Center concourse selling "93Strong" T-shirts with proceeds going toward the family of Larry Aaron to assist with medical expenses.
Benefit fundraiser for Aaron family
Marshall University athletics has a fundraiser from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday on the concourse of Cam Henderson Center to benefit the family of football player tackle Larry Aaron III, who died Thursday after undisclosed complications from treatment stemming from a gunshot wound suffered Jan. 1 in Severn, Maryland. The fundraiser takes place before and during a 7 p.m. Marshall men's basketball game.
T-shirts that say "93Strong" will be sold for $20 on the concourse next to the swimming pool entrance.