Loved ones gather one year after Charlotte FC defender’s death

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Close loved ones of Charlotte FC player Anton Walkes invited the community to help celebrate his life a year after he died in Florida.

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The 25-year-old father was killed on Jan. 19, 2023, in a boating accident in Florida during preseason training.

CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 02: Anton Walkes #5 of Charlotte FC passes the ball against Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on April 02, 2022 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
CHESTER, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 02: Anton Walkes #5 of Charlotte FC passes the ball against Philadelphia Union at Subaru Park on April 02, 2022 in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JUNE 20:  Anton Walkes #4 of Atlanta United reacts after scoring on a header against the Philadelphia Union during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JUNE 20: Anton Walkes #4 of Atlanta United reacts after scoring on a header against the Philadelphia Union during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JUNE 20:  Anton Walkes #4 of Atlanta United reacts after scoring on a header against the Philadelphia Union with Brooks Lennon #11 during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - JUNE 20: Anton Walkes #4 of Atlanta United reacts after scoring on a header against the Philadelphia Union with Brooks Lennon #11 during the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on June 20, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
REUNION, FLORIDA - JULY 21:  Anton Walkes #4 of Atlanta United runs with the ball against Columbus Crew during a Group E match as part of the MLS Is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 21, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
REUNION, FLORIDA - JULY 21: Anton Walkes #4 of Atlanta United runs with the ball against Columbus Crew during a Group E match as part of the MLS Is Back Tournament at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on July 21, 2020 in Reunion, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Charlotte FC defender Anton Walkes reacts to scoring on a penalty kick during the team's friendly soccer match against Chelsea, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C.
Charlotte FC defender Anton Walkes reacts to scoring on a penalty kick during the team's friendly soccer match against Chelsea, Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Charlotte, N.C.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is leading an ongoing investigation into the crash.

On Friday, friends and fans were invited to bring flowers and share memories of him at Forest Lawn West Cemetery. Walkes’ longtime partner and mother of his daughter was in attendance, along with close family members and friends.

Fans remember the player who ‘did everything right’

Walkes was honored Friday by fans who said they admired who he was and how he played.

“I feel like after this happened last year, it’s like that month or two after was kind of a wash -- I think it’s still on a lot of players’ hearts every day,” said Zach McDonald, a Charlotte FC fan who attended Friday’s memorial.

One after another, fans stopped by to pay their respects and remember Walkes for what made him special.

“[He] smiles a lot, you know, his attitude,” said Anthony Castro, a Charlotte FC fan. “It’s sad to think about.”

“Took a moment to reflect, it kind of puts things into perspective because of how young he was,” McDonald said. “You know, anything can happen at any moment.”

McDonald said he remembered Walkes as a “rock on the field” when he played for Charlotte FC.

“He wasn’t the guy who made all the flashy plays, but he did everything right,” McDonald said.

For Castro, Walkes’ first impression left a lasting impact.

He said: “He was actually one of the first players I met, it felt amazing. That’s what really made me love Charlotte FC.”

(WATCH BELOW: Charlotte FC honors Anton Walkes with celebration of life)