BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Bessemer native. Jess-Lanier Graduate. Mississippi State student-athlete. Son. Brother. Uncle. Friend. Starting defensive end Nick Bell had a bright future ahead and an abundance of fans and friends behind him.
"Everybody claimed my boy," said Nick's mother Linda Bell. "They would call my boy their boy. And I knew then that he belonged to the world, he didn't just belong to me."
The 20-year-old's life was suddenly cut short when headaches revealed a rare form of cancer. Dispite his condition, his demeanor never changed. Mississippi State teammate and Attalla native, Kendrick Cook, spoke about Nick's impact on his own life at Nick's memorial.
"Nick's life on earth was to show us that we don't have long," said Cook. "Our time and God's time [are] not the same. Nick never complained never once did I hear him say, 'Man, I'm tired.' This was a man who's heart was so strong. So strong. That in the midst of adversity he smiled."
Nick's sudden passing affected the entire Bulldog team, but many, like head coach Dan Mullen, look back and remember Nick's positive perspective on life.
"I've never seen someone that's oh so positive in life," Mullen said. "To be positive while you're on a leg press machine. To be positive in a mat drill at 5 o'clock in the morning in the middle of February. To be positive when you're training and running sprints in the heat of the summer. If Nick was to leave us with one message [of how to live] our lives is there a better message for him to leave to us than that?"
To Nick, Mississippi State was more than just a school. The Bulldogs were family.
"Even the week after he had the cancer mass removed from his brain he was at the campus giving his teammates a go-getter," Linda said. "I mean a peptalk is what he gave them telling them to go out and win."
But Nick's story doesn't end there. Years before his collegiate football career began, Nick promised his mother Linda that he would commit his life to serving the community's youth. Now she's the one helping Nick fulfill that promise.
"I decided that I was going to do something," Linda said. "My boy's life was not going to be in vain. He was not just going to live and leave. So I came up with the Nick Bell Mentoring and Memorial Foundation (http://nickbellfoundation.org/). It's just a continuation of raising children and encouraging children to do and be the best that they can be."
Using Nick's life as an example.