'He taught me what's important': Tributes to talented Stafford Rangers footballer after death aged 24
“He taught me a lot about what’s important in life. For someone to have that effect on me, when he was only 15 or 16, shows how special he was.”
Tributes have flooded for a talented young footballer, who has died from a rare form of cancer.
Latham Grant, from Sedgley, who attended Dormston School, was diagnosed with the neck and head disease, nasopharyngeal cancer, in 2016.
He had chosen to fight the illness using homoeopathic treatment, rather than go down the common routes of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
His family launched a £40,000 fundraising appeal after undertaking hours of research to send him to Mexico for treatment, which included oxygen therapy and an alkaline diet.
Latham, who played for Stafford Rangers, died on January 18, aged 25.
A ‘Celebration of Life’ service, where all attendees are invited to wear a red item of clothing or a Liverpool FC shirt as a tribute to Latham, takes place from noon on February 18, at Mount Shiloh House, Hickman Avenue, Wolverhampton.
His family will welcome floral tributes to be laid at the graveside. The service will then move to Gornal Wood Cemetery, Chase Road, Gornal Wood, Dudley, from 2.30pm.
Leading the tributes to Latham was Nick Amos, assistant headteacher at Dormston School, who taught Latham during PE lessons.
Mr Amos also became his assistant coach at Stafford Rangers and said Latham’s positive and laid back qualities helped teach him “what’s important in life”.
“I taught him for about five years. I’ve been here for 21 years now and he was one of the pupils who just stood out,” he said.
“I’ll always remember him. Latham was always smiling and always polite. He was probably not the best academically but everyone has different strengths and his was sport.
"He loved talking about it with me but he was always such a laid back character. Latham never got worked up about anything. He was always calm and relaxed, looking at the bigger picture.
“He never looked at the short term, everything was long term.
" I used to love our discussions, even though I was about 20 years older than him. He taught me a lot about what’s important in life. For someone to have that effect on me, when he was only 15 or 16, shows how special he really was.”
Mr Amos said he was confident about Latham’s future outside of school because he understood life and was always respectful of others.
“Unfortunately, he didn’t get that opportunity but at school he was part of a strong football team and thrived doing PE,” he said.
“He loved pitching himself against others and was always looking to improve his game. When I was at Stafford, I remember playing with him in the under 21s team, because it’s always so much easier to your point of view across when you’re alongside them.
"He was just like a sponge and wanted to learn more. Even when he played really well he would ask for advice.”
Neil Kitching, who was first team coach during Latham’s time at Stafford Rangers, said: "He was lovely kid who was very close to the first team when I was there and travelled with us on a couple of occasions, making the bench.
"He had a lot of potential to come through the ranks and showed a lot of promise.
"We were all absolutely gutted when we found out about his diagnosis but kept update with his progress.
"It was such a young age and I suppose it shows how important it is to live every day to the full.
"The passing came as such a shock to us all and our condolences are with the family."
Latham’s father Chris, writing on Facebook, said: “Yes, it’s true my son Latham stopped breathing on January 18. You really don’t know how I feel right now. God Bless you all and thank you all for your support.”
Wolverhampton rap artist James ‘Lem The Lyricist’ Lyman unveiled a heartfelt track, My Day One, to Latham, who was his childhood friend, after his diagnosis.
Latham had spoken openly about his own illness when his family launched the crowdfunding page, and how his faith was helping him through.
“I was ready for the worst but I’ve always believed in God," he said. “When my life is good I still thank him and when my life is bad like now I don’t class it as a bad situation.
"I believe it's a blessing and things are going to come from it. It’s not just about me getting healed its about me giving hope to others and encouraging people."
Numerous fundraisers were also help across the Black Country, with former fighter Richard Ghent's RG Box Fit open day in Bilston raising £350.
Spring Vale Primary in Parkfield, Wolverhampton, which Latham also attended, collected more £2,000 after hosting an exercise challenge during a ‘healthy week’, and The Fresh Coffee Shop, in Wombourne, raised £500 through a charity fashion show and raffle.
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