Friends, community mourns and shocked by death of former high school football star

LAS VEGAS - A Las Vegas community continues to mourn the loss of a former Chaparral High School football player.

The mother of 18-year-old Richard Nelson says her son was killed Saturday while trying to protect his sister from a group of attackers.  The deadly shooting happened outside the family home near Tropicana and Boulder Highway.

Nelson graduated Chaparral High in 2016 and went on to attend Missouri State where he played college football on a full ride scholarship.   

"I just don't understand why it had to be him," said Andrew Solis, one of Nelson's Chapparal High School teammates.

Solis says he's still in disbelief over Nelson's death.

"He's just an animal," Solis said describing Nelson's skills on the football field.  "If he gets an open field, he's not going be to stopped."

Solis said he and Nelson met in middle school, but the two became inseparable in high school; their love of football bonded them.

Solis says Nelson had his back on and off the field.

"It's kind of shows the way he went out too -- protecting his family because it's the kind of person he was," Solis said.

While Nelson was home from school for winter break, he spent time mentoring his former teammates.

"We would mostly ask him a bunch of questions about being on a division one football team," Solis said.

Nelson played college football at Missouri State, but he also excelled in other sports.

"He was our power forward," said Steven Bentz, Chaparral High School Basketball Coach.

Bentz had Nelson on his team for three years and described the young athlete as an exceptional player who always gave back to his community.

"He just came back and spoke to the team last week while he was down here for winter break," Bentz said.

To honor his life, the basketball team will sport patches on their jerseys with Nelson's initials and the number 20 at their next game.
"He always did everything the right way and pushed through all of the adversity he faced in his life," Bentz said.

Bentz said Nelson was more than a player. He was part of his family.

On Saturday, Bentz rushed to the hospital after learning of the shooting to join his heartbroken mother, friends, and former teammates.

"The only thing I've been able to come up with is that God must have had bigger plans for him," according to Solis. 
Former teammates and coaches tell me they will ask the school to retire Nelson's jersey.

GoFundMe for Richard Nelson

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