NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Joe McKnight, 28, was well known long before his road-rage related death put his name in international headlines.
At his funeral Monday it showed.
"Very humble guy, been knowing him for some time, just wanted to show respect to his family, other friends that we played with," said Thaddeus Jackson, who played ball with McKnight, at John Curtis Christian School.
"He was a great guy, just tremendous competitor, tremendous teammate, he was just fun to be around, as a child I always want to be around. He would stay at my house for tournaments down the bayou," said Ben Martin, another childhood friend.
By the hundreds people flocked to the New Home Ministries Church to say good-bye for the athlete who grew up in Kenner and went on to play for USC and the NFL.
'When we got off this plane and we stepped in front of this church it really just got real, you know, emotions start to come and you realize that you really lost somebody, you lost somebody close," said Bart Scott, a former New York Jets teammate of McKnight.
Mark Sanchez, who was a Jets quarterback was also in attendance.
"There's a brotherhood and camaraderie that we shared and it's tough to lose someone like that, so we just wanted to show our support," Sanchez said.
McKnight's family appreciated the outpouring of support during a painful time.
"I just think it's a testament to all the lives he touched," said Shabby Brown, an older brother of McKnight.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said Ronald Gasser shot and killed McKnight after the two engaged in a road rage incident that came to a deadly at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown, just outside of New Orleans. Gasser was booked with manslaughter, but many in the community expressed frustration that it took days for Gasser's arrest to happen.
McKnight's brother told FOX 8 News that the family is trying to cope.
'It's a hard time, anytime a life gets cut short like that, we all have to stay strong for the whole family," said Brown.
And many who showed up for the funeral remember McKnight as someone with a personality that was a magnet for people.
"He was always smiling, he was always laughing and we played together in college and to see him play in the NFL and accomplish what he did and playing in the CFL, everything he did athletically he was just a freak accident, and so fun to watch," said Sanchez.
Scott considered McKnight to be a brother. He said their families also vacationed together.
"He was a caring, thoughtful cool cat. You think about New Orleans you think about laid back, he was cool, he had a fun smile," Scott said.
And McKnight's former NFL teammates who were in attendance promised to be there for McKnight even though he is gone.
"Support for his son, who's going to need guidance and memories and stories about the type of man that his father was," said Scott.
A jazz band played as the coffin was carried from the church.
McKnight leaves behind a young son, Jaiden McKnight, his parents, and four siblings.
He was buried in Restlawn Cemetery in Jefferson Parish.