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Little Rock's Leading Local News: Weather, Traffic, Sports and more | Little Rock, Arkansas | THV11.com

New tradition honors memory of Malvern Leopard James King

"It’s pretty neat when these elementary school kids know who number 4 was and they didn’t get to know him or meet him but his legacy lives on"

MALVERN, Ark. — The James King 7-on-7 tournament is a summer tradition for Arkansas high school football. Teams gather in Malvern to compete and honor the former Leopard Star who passed away unexpectedly in 2012.

"It’s pretty neat when these elementary school kids know who number 4 was and they didn’t get to know him or meet him but his legacy lives on" says head coach J.D. Plumlee.

However, like many events the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19. So Coach Plumlee and wide receivers Coach Austin Warford still wanted to honor James’ memory.

"As coaches we talked about picking out a young man that similes and meets the requirements so to speak to carry on James’ legacy."

The number 4 is more than a number in Malvern, it’s a symbol of high character on and off the field. The staff picked senior Malique Reliford to wear James’ number this season.

"He was excited about it, his family was excited about it. It brought back a lot of memories having number 4 on the field. He represented it well and he’ll continue to do so."

Malique not only dawned number 4, he honored James’ memory the way he knows best.. by scoring a touchdown.

"It was awesome, I talked to Malique after the game and James may have been a little faster but he did a great job. We’ve got to get the ball in his hands and he’s a big time player for us on both sides of the ball."