Staley High linebacker using football, faith to cope with tragic loss of father

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's hard to forget the past.

Staley High School's football program is set to begin the 2018 season Friday night, less than a year removed from a perfect 14-0 season. The Falcons took home the school's second MHSAA Class 5 state championship last year.

This year's Falcons will have a different look, as Coach Phil Lite needs to replace 12 starters -- six on each side of the ball.

However, that's nothing compared to the loss one Staley Falcon feels as he continues to confront grief and sorrow.

Each day gets a little better for Staley outside linebacker Cameron Wilson. The person he counted on the most is sadly gone.

On May 30, 2015, the Wilson family visited Long Island, New York. Amityville was home for Louis Wilson, Cameron's father. Published reports show "Big Lou," as he was known to friends and fellow AAU coaches in Kansas City, tried to shield his brother from an attacker with a gun.

Cameron Wilson

The 44-year old father of two was killed in the chaos.

"I remember I looked at Facebook," Cameron Wilson remembered. "I had my uncle as a friend, and he had typed something that said, 'We miss you, Big Lou.' I asked my cousin and he told me, 'Yeah, that's what happened.'"

Tanya Wilson, Cameron's mother, said three years later, she's still trying to shed that heartache for her two sons. She said her family's faith in God has played a huge role in their ability to cope with Louis' death.

For 17-year old Cameron, his Staley teammates continue to be a great source of strength as he continues to cope.

"We have to keep moving. We're not going to let this define us," Tanya Wilson told FOX4. "We didn't let this tragedy change us for the negative. That was something I was really concerned about, especially for Cameron, being a teenage boy."

"Sometimes, after games, I see my teammates with their dads, and telling stories about how they do stuff with their dads, and sometimes, if I'm hanging out with them and their dads, I feel like I miss that," Cameron Wilson said Thursday.

In May 2017, Jakyma Bunn, a 40-year old New York resident, was acquitted of Louis Wilson's murder.

Phil Lite, third-year Falcons head coach, said he's pleased to see Wilson confronting the loss of his father with maturity and a willingness to grow from it.

"He's pretty quiet. We know there's moments he's reflecting and he's thinking about Dad. One thing we preach in our program is this is football family," Lite said. "Our kids know they can lean on one another."

And that's exactly what Cameron is doing.

"Since that happened, I've been with sports every day two or three times per day getting work in, doing something to keep me occupied. I don't want a lot of time idle to sit there and do nothing. That's when bad stuff seeps into your mind," he said.

Wilson and his Staley High teammates will face Kearney High on Aug. 31 after Friday night's season-opener at Truman High in Independence.