November 5, 2010 10:35:00 AM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- Nick Bell''s memorial service featured several speakers and slideshows honoring the former Mississippi State football player.
But each shared a common theme about their friend: his bright smile.
Bell, who passed away Tuesday following a bout with cancer, was honored Thursday in front of a packed Lee Hall Auditorium on the Mississippi State University campus.
The Bessemer, Ala., native was 20 years old and a sophomore in his third season as a defensive end for the Bulldogs.
Head coach Dan Mullen, visibly emotional as Bell''s family, teammates and fraternity brothers sat in the front row, recalled a player who wouldn''t let the stresses of everyday life dampen the spirit he wanted to share with others.
"The strongest emotion there is, is love," Mullen said. "And when you feel the love that I know I felt, that our team felt and our community felt for Nick, that emotion can overwhelm you."
Bell''s former roommates and current MSU players Kendrick Cook and Charles Mitchell had known the former Jess Lanier standout since they all arrived on campus together in 2008.
Cook spoke of the day he first met Bell and the infectious positive energy he shared. His speech was somber, yet uplifting as he urged the audience to live like Bell did.
"I''m going to do my best not to complain because Nick never did," Cook said. "We should all do that."
Mitchell followed Cook with a bit of humor, appropriate considering the happy, vibrant friend they all remembered.
Mitchell talked about the wrestling matches between Bell and fellow defensive end Sean Ferguson in McKee Hall, noting Bell would win because he was bigger than Ferguson back when they were freshmen.
A slide show, including video highlights, followed before members of Omega Psi Phi joined in a circle to sing "Omega Dear." The fraternity members left an open spot in the circle where Bell''s framed jersey stood.
FCA director Bill Buckley opened and close the ceremony with a prayer.
Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive and former MSU athletic director Larry Templeton attended the ceremony.
Thursday night, Georgia Tech players wore a Mississippi State sticker on their helmets to honor Bell.
An SEC spokesman said the four league games that will be televised will do an on-air tribute using photos and approved information from MSU.
Before the No. 21 Bulldogs'' game at Alabama on Nov. 13, there will be a moment of silence.