PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Hundreds of high school students in Ahwatukee, a Phoenix residential neighborhood to the west of Tempe and Chandler, gathered on Thursday to honor a volleyball player who died suddenly over the weekend.
A pink jersey, number 7, sat on an empty seat at Desert Vista High School's home volleyball game on Thursday night, as many in the stands wore pink, Alex DePriest's favorite color. Alex, a standout volleyball player, had Type 1 diabetes, died last week due to complications from the disease.
It was something the DePriests family did not see coming.
It's hard," said Alex's father, Cary. "It's extremely hard, because this happened very sudden."
Family members and friends say Alex was head strong, had an infectious smile, and cared about others.
"She had those beautiful white teeth, with that great big smile," said Cary.
"Put a smile on my face, and make my whole day better," said one young man, as he holds back his tears.
"She gave me the most purest form of love, and for that, I'm forever thankful," said Alex's best friend, Madison Garner.
Her laugh, friends say, can brighten anyone's day.
"I could be devastated, crying, and then, she'll literally look at me and smile at me, and I would just start cracking, 'cause she's just such a bubbly personality," said one of Alex's friends.
Alex was an aspiring nurse, and had plans to attend Arizona State University in the fall. Cary said his daughter wanted to help others.
"Caregiving and things like that was something she really wanted to do," said Cary, who has some peace knowing his daughter will continue to serve a purpose. Alex was an organ donor, and her kidneys and eyes, according to Cary, have already been used as transplants for patients in dire need.
Meanwhile, Cary said his daughter's pancreas and lungs have been donated to help with diabetes research.
"I think she would be extremely happy, with that big smile," said Cary.
GoFundMe page for Alex DePriest Memorial Fund