MOUNTAIN PINE, Ark. — Just a few days after his 30th birthday, Ben Anderson drowned in Lake Ouachita after tubing without a life jacket.
This accident has now left Arkansans to mourn the loss of the University of Pine Bluff star football alumni, mentor, and friend.
Cameo Stokes, the Associate Athletic Director for Strategic Communications in Athletics at UAPB athletics, worked with Anderson during his time on the gridiron.
He spoke wonders of Anderson. And said, "We knew from day one, when he came in, we knew that he was gonna be something special."
Stokes then recalled the quarterback's HBCU championship winning play in 2012, and explained that it "came down to the last crunch of the game. [Anderson] took a 90 plus yard touchdown to Willie Young for a touchdown. And that changed everything."
But Stokes explained that Anderson's time in Pine Bluff was about way more than just "x's and o's" on the football field.
"He will always be remembered as the guy that was vocal, big smile on his face, who tried to help others," Stokes said.
After Anderson's own professional career ended, he went on to train athletes who were just getting started in their own.
That includes players like Jeremiah Lowery, a Central High School football player.
"When I started working out with Ben, it felt like I had unlocked something in myself that I had never seen before or never felt before... and now I'm just I'm a whole different athlete, because of Ben," Lowery said.
Lowery mentioned that Anderson taught him about so much more than how to play the game.
"He was a really big mentor, for me, closest thing to a father figure I had in my life, which is really why I have that like, real deep, like hole in my heart right now because he's gone," Lowery said.
Lowery made it clear that Anderson has left a lasting impact on all those he met.
He said, "I'm going to keep the drive that he gave me, the passion that he gave me for football."
UAPB has big plans for their homecoming ceremony this year.
They plan to honor not only the 10 year anniversary of the 2012 championship team, but they also want to honor their star quarterback, Ben Anderson.