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Former Nease football player to be buried Christmas Eve

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Updated: 12/23/2013 11:46 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A local family prepares to bury their son on Christmas Eve after an altercation turned violent in Greenville, South Carolina.

Denzell Hayden, 21, was a former football standout at Nease High School in St. Johns County, that Action News followed week after week until he graduated in 2012.

According to Yahoo Sports, Hayden was recruited by four colleges including South Carolina, but never played there. Instead, he joined the Greenville Titans junior college team, and was in Greenville the night of December 10, when he was found dead with gun shot wound to his stomach.

Police believe Hayden and two friends, Titan's teammate Clint Wright, 19, and Lamin Yansaneh, 20, attempted to rob a man at at a Greenville apartment complex, when multiple shots were fired.

Police say all three men ran. Hayden died on the sidewalk, while Wright and Yasaneh drove away. They were arrested at the hospital later that night seeking treatment for their own wounds, and charged with attempted murder, attempted armed robbery, burglary, and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

According to Wright's arrest warrant from the Greenville Police Department, Hayden and Yasaneh entered the apartment, while Wright stayed outside. A spokesperson tells Action News investigators still aren't sure what Hayden and his friends were looking for.

It seems uncharacteristic, though, of the man many locals claim to have known. Hayden's former Nease High School football coach Danny Cowgill, remembers him fondly.

"Denzell had a huge heart and was a leader both on and off the field. He was also very trustworthy. That is the man I will always remember. His death is a crushing blow."

Greenville Police tell Action News that Wright and Yasaneh were not, and likely will not, be charged in Hayden's death. However, the man who was in the apartment and was also shot, will face some charges once he is released from the hospital. For now, he is still recovering in stable condition.

Denzell Hayden's funeral service was held over the weekend. He will be buried at the Jacksonville National Cemetery at 9 AM on Christmas Eve.

Denzell Hayden leaves behind one son. The Hayden family could not be reached for comment.
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