Franklin football coach, family remember teen killed in ATV accident

Local News

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) – The 15-year-old rising sophomore at Franklin High School killed in an ATV accident last Friday is being remembered as a young man with a big heart who “exceeded any expectations of what a typical teenager should be.”

William Cherry would have turned 16 on July 13.

From the moment Cherry walked into the weight room as a freshman, Coach Alex Melton knew he was a star.

“His smile is just unreal,” said Coach Melton, who joined the school’s football team earlier this year. “His personality was great and he’s the type of kid that everybody wants to coach.”

Cherry was an immense talent on the gridiron, playing on the offensive and defensive lines, and the baseball field. His coaches recognized him for having a competitive spirit.

“Every kid that comes through your program, you want them to continue to progress every year,” Melton said. “He started off with such great potential as a freshman and you could really see a bright future for him athletically and academically. You hope that for every kid, but Will was definitely a special young man in that way for sure.”

The teen’s family sent News 2 a beautiful tribute in an email.

“We want you to know William Michael Cherry Jr., just shy of 16 years old…The first baby to bless a large family and the first baby boy to bless another. The only thing bigger than this boy is his heart. In every way possible, this young man has far exceeded any expectations of what a typical teenage boy should be. He loves unconditionally and unapologetically, no matter who is watching. His heart is as beautiful as his face. His mother is the love of his life, his father is his best friend and his sister is his biggest and rowdiest fan.

In a world full of wolves, William was a sheep dog. A protector. Whether at home with his family or on the field, he takes care of everyone else. He is determined to always be better and do his best even if he falls short.

The only thing this boy knows in life is love. How to give it, how to receive it and how to be it. For 3 years now, he has outgrown all of his family and friends, but today, July 6th 2021, he outgrows the world by becoming a hero to more than just us. He will continue that love journey in bigger William ways then we ever imagined, and his life will live on through us and the gift he is so selflessly giving to others.

Wonka, we have loved you your whole life and we will miss you for the rest of ours.”

Holley Synchata, Will Cherry’s Aunt

Cherry donated his organs to save lives. Franklin baseball coach Wally Whidby told News 2 “that’s who he was. The ultimate teammate willing to give whatever he was able to help someone in need. That’s the Cherry family.”

Hundreds attended prayer vigil at the school’s football field earlier this week and several family members and friends stayed by his side at Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt until he died. Coach Melton grew emotional as he started to think about not seeing his smile again once the season resumes.

“What makes him Will is still alive and he’s still making people laugh and I don’t think that ever dies,” Melton said. “Although our body, our shell may die and pass away, I don’t think that goes away and that helps.”

The school and team will work together to find a way to permanently honor Cherry.

Visitation and the funeral for Cherry will be at the Williamson Memorial Funeral Home on Columbia Avenue in Franklin. Visitation is Sunday, July 11th from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. The service is the next morning at 11 a.m.

A GoFundMe has been created to help the Cherry Family.

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