Coach calls for following example set by slain Centennial teen

Rugby mentor, teammate remember Centennial student Lloyd Chavez

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Kind. Humble. Hard-working. A fierce competitor. Someone who always worked to make sure others felt good.

That's how a rugby coach and teammate of Lloyd Chavez remember the 18-year-old Cherokee Trail High School student who was fatally shot May 8 in front of his home in east Centennial.

When Chavez arrived on the rugby field as a younger, “spindly” kid, Dave Farmer was skeptical.

“I said: 'That guy isn't going to be able to play rugby — look how scrawny he is,'” said Farmer, a coach on the Aurora Saracens club team. “And he ended up being spectacular. He was all-state four years in a row in high school.”

Chavez had an all-around character: He could goof around but excel as a leader on the field. He could take on larger players but “be your best friend after a game,” Farmer said.

“Respecting and being friends with your opponent is maybe the biggest part of the culture in rugby, and he epitomized that,” Farmer said. “I'm not sure if anyone in our league of 30-something teams was more well-liked and respected than Lloyd.”

Chavez came from a generations-long line of local rugby players. His father and grandfather played for a men's team called the Denver Highlanders, and his brother played with him on the Saracens, Farmer said. His father, trained as a Marine, was among those helping to save people during the recent semi-truck crash and fire on Interstate 70.

His son also had an eye for taking care of people. Chavez wanted people to feel good about themselves and feel like they were part of the group, Farmer said.

“If he caught you moping around, he made it his duty to kind of surreptitiously cheer you up, like a mischievous elf or a cowdog nipping at your ankles,” Farmer said.

Teammate Elijah Perez-Martinez, a 17-year-old who attends Overland High School, remembers a team trip to play rugby in Oregon.

“I remember a pass that he made, the most incredible pass I had ever seen,” said Perez-Martinez, who met Chavez about four years ago. But “he also didn't need all the glory. He was kind.”

The Saracens team had its ups and downs, but it benefited from Chavez's encouraging nature, Perez-Martinez added.

“For every mistake we made as team or individual, he would always come and say: 'It's OK — we all make mistakes, just pick your head up,'” Perez-Martinez said. “He was just always there to lift up the team or a player. He would never blame somebody.”

On May 8, four teenagers who all appear to be Cherry Creek School District students, according to accusations in arrest affidavits, pulled up to Chavez's home in a neighborhood near East Smoky Hill Road and South Picadilly Street. They had allegedly planned a robbery of vaping products Chavez sold, according to the documents.

The incident ended in Chavez being shot, although one of the students originally told an investigator she arranged to buy from Chavez and that the group didn't intend to steal from him, the affidavits claim. She allegedly later said the other three planned to steal from him and that her intent to get vape product turned into a robbery plan. That student said the group didn't intend to shoot Chavez but, rather, threaten him if he didn't give them the product, according to the documents.

Chavez was hard-working “on the field and off the field” and was going to graduate this year, Perez-Martinez said.

“He had plans to go to college (and) play rugby,” Perez-Martinez said. “On the field, he'd be one of the people you'd spot just because of his work ethic.”

Farmer wants people to remember how Chavez “always worked to make other people feel good.”

“And take some inspiration from that to be responsible for doing that themselves, since Lloyd isn't there to do it anymore,” Farmer said. “We can all do it. It’s just something we should all work a little harder at.”

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