North Greenville University hosted a Celebration of Life service for Davis Heller at Ray and Bea Dillard Field last Wednesday. Heller, a member of the NGU Baseball team, passed away suddenly in October at the age of 22.
“NGU was blessed to have had Davis as a student for this short period of time, but we were blessed incredibly to be able to host the celebration of his life,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “The celebration was God-honoring and reminded us constantly of the hope of the resurrection and the importance of living as agents of grace and encouragement to those around us.”
Family members, friends and former teammates shared tributes during the event.
“He was a special guy,” Heller’s sister, Brianna, said at the service. “He made an impact on people no matter how well you knew him. He genuinely found joy in the success of those around him. His faith told him that God had a plan for him and there was plenty of success to go around.”
Frequently referred to as the “greatest teammate of all time,” Heller was remembered for the way he loved and supported others.
“Davis is referred to as the greatest teammate of all time, and quite honestly, that might be an understatement,” said Andrew Pinckney, who played with Heller at the University of Alabama.
“Everyone loved Davis,” added his South Mountain Community College teammate, Efry Cervantes. “He was the most loving, caring and supportive teammate I’ve ever had. He was the loudest person in the dugout when you did something great, and the first person to pick you up when you needed it. He was a once-in-a-lifetime teammate.”
NGU Senior Noah Takac said Heller was a role model for his teammates.
“He was the best of us. He was the person that we needed here,” Takac said. “He was a role model to everybody and somebody that we all looked up to. He was the greatest teammate, and I see now that he was the same guy everywhere he went.”
North Greenville Baseball Coach Landon Powell said Heller was also a competitor on the baseball diamond.
“Davis was a tremendous player. He could ball. He could hit. He could field. He was a great player,” Powell said. “He was such a great teammate that sometimes that gets overshadowed. I talk to the players a lot about building relationships, and Davis made that easy. He’d come every day for 10-15 minutes and just talk with me. It made me realize what kind of guy he was. His teammates gravitated toward him. He had an infectious personality.”
Mike Timlin, Heller’s high school baseball coach, led the ceremony. Hundreds were in attendance, including Heller’s former teammates from the University of Alabama.
“He was a rough and tumble gentle giant,” Timlin said. “He was a fast friend to many, and patient and loving to many others.”
During the Celebration of Life, Heller’s parents, DJ and Melanie, announced the creation of a foundation in their son’s honor. Takac, an NGU pitcher, received the first $5,000 Davis Heller Foundation Scholarship Award.
“The scholarship is an incredible way to honor Davis’s memory, as it is a tangible continuation of his role on the team,” President Fant said. “I know that Noah was humbled by the award and future recipients will not only be humbled but will be inspired to live ‘large,’ just as Davis did.”
To learn more about the Davis Heller Memorial Foundation, click here.