Competing Connecticut lacrosse teams come together to honor slain athlete

Competing high school lacrosse teams in Connecticut came together Wednesday to honor slain athlete James McGrath, who was fatally stabbed during a fight over the weekend.

The touching tribute to McGrath, a 17-year-old junior and lacrosse player at Fairfield College Preparatory School, took place at the Fairfield Prep game against Shelton High School.

The teen’s family, friends and classmates filled the bleachers, dressed in baby blue, McGrath’s favorite color, and wore t-shirts bearing his lacrosse number, 7.

The Shelton team also swapped their normal uniform for shirts with McGrath’s number on them during the game.

“This is a day to celebrate Jimmy’s life,” the slain teen’s dad, Kevin McGrath, said from the field before the game, according to Fox News.

The father, joined by his wife, told the crowd his son brought the blue skies and sunshine for the game after a lacrosse season largely filled with bad weather.

Kevin McGrath said he and his family were grateful for the outpouring of support both communities have showed them in days after son’s death.

James McGrath
McGrath was fatally stabbed during a fight outside of a home late Saturday night.

“I love every single one of you,” he said. “You have made a difficult situation better.”

McGrath’s mother Maggie fought back sobs at several points as her husband spoke. Kevin McGrath said their son wouldn’t want to see them shed a tear.

“Jimmy doesn’t want us to cry for him,” Kevin McGrath said. “Jimmy’s up there with his friends, his cousins who have passed. They’re up there looking down upon us today.”

Following his words, players from both teams hugged and consoled McGrath’s parents as they were introduced by an announcer.

Though McGrath attended Fairfield Prep, a private Catholic high school for boys, he was friends with many students and lacrosse players at Shelton High, where his sister Rosie is a senior.

Both teams started the game with a man down, to honor the missing player, CT Insider reported.

Hours before the game, a 16-year-old from Milton was arrested on charges of murder and three counts of first-degree assault over the Saturday night stabbing outside a home in Shelton late Saturday.

An online obituary for McGrath said the teenager had many friends who cared deeply for him.

“He was a good friend who had the gift of always seeing the best in everyone and spreading happiness wherever he went,” the obituary states. “He will be so missed and his memory will be treasured by all.”

A funeral mass for McGrath is planned for Friday at St. Theresa Church in Trumbull, according to his obituary.