JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Louis Nix III earned the nickname "Irish Chocolate" when he played football for the legendary Notre Dame team.
His mother called him "Big Lou," and now the 29-year-old Jacksonville man will be laid to rest on March 20.
The former NFL player whose football career began at Raines High School was found dead late Feb. 27 when police recovered his car from a retention pond outside his apartment complex on Broxton Bay Drive.
Visitation is set for 4 to 7 p.m. March 19, at the Holmes-Glover-Solomon Funeral Directors at 4334 Brentwood Ave. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. the following day at Philippian Community Church at 7578 New Kings Road, just north of Soutel Drive.
Nix's mother, Stephanie Wingfield, said it has been a very tough time for her family, losing her son — who also was wounded in a recent shooting — only a few months after her mother died. But since his death, she has learned that her "Big Lou" touched so many people's lives.
"It is just overwhelming to get all the calls and people posting pictures of him hugging them," she said. "... I am glad to know and see that he touched so many lives. He was bigger than life and had so much life to live for, for it to be cut short. It's hard, it's heart-breaking. And he wanted to do so much more. I don't understand it. I need understanding."
Louis Nix III: A successful athlete
Nix played football and basketball at Raines and also was on its track and field teams. The Times-Union named him a Super 11 selection in 2009. He played for Notre Dame from 2011 to 2013, helping the Fighting Irish reach the national championship game in the 2012 season. He then went to the NFL to play with the Houston Texans before stints with the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Jacksonville Jaguars. But injuries curtailed his football career in 2017.
He was seriously injured on Dec. 8 when he was shot in the chest during a robbery outside a gas station while putting air in his tires, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.
Nix's family had started a GoFundMe fundraiser for his rehabilitation just days after he was shot, saying his "near-death experience" strengthened his commitment to making a difference in his North Jacksonville community as "a dedicated anti-violence advocate."
Then came the discovery of his car in the pond a few days after his mother reported him missing when she said he didn't respond to her calls or text messages.
Police even issued a public missing-person advisory on Feb. 27. Later that same day, his mother said she just felt something was wrong.
"I just felt sick because I knew, I felt something had happened to my baby," she said in a Sunday Times-Union interview.
The Sheriff's Office later said he was found "in close proximity to where the vehicle was located in the pond."
Wingfield said she is "still questioning" what happened. She said he just had another hospital procedure done to deal with the aftermath of the December shooting, and it hurt her to see him in "so much pain." But he then met with her pastor, and she said he "accepted God into his life."
"Had God taken him when he got shot, my baby would not have been ready," his mother said. "But God took him when he was ready, so this is what I get out of this whole thing. I am grieving my son, but at the same time I know he had God in his life."
Dan Scanlan: (904) 359-4549
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