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Celebrating Baba's legacy: Family raises funds for charity in memory of late student

Baba Agbaje '23 (Photo via GoFundMe)
Baba Agbaje '23 (Photo via GoFundMe)

At a vigil for late Babatunde “Baba” Agbaje ‘23 on April 11, gatherers had the chance to write a message to the student and his family, as well as to collectively remember him alongside others who knew him. Those who attended were largely upperclassmen who had classes with Agbaje or had played soccer alongside him in his time on the Mercer men’s soccer team.

“He always made it a point to say ‘hi,’ come over and give a hug or wave from across the way,” one student said. 

Agbaje passed away April 10 while playing soccer at Mercer’s Outdoor Recreation Complex. His passing shocked many in the Mercer community, and in the time since, they have come together to remember their classmate, teammate and friend.

People gather in Mercer Village at a vigil for Baba Agbaje '23 on April 11.

“He was an incredible person who embodied what it means to be a Mercer Bear. Everyone who knew Baba loved him and he was a blessing to coach. He will be greatly missed,” said Mercer’s men’s soccer head coach Brad Ruzzo in a statement to Mercer Athletics. 

Mark Powell, a volunteer photographer who covers many local high schools and Mercer Athletics, works closely with teams, developing relationships with the coaching staffs and players. In his time photographing the men’s soccer team, he got to know Agbaje and the character he showed after having won the Southern Conference championship.

One particular exchange Powell had with Agbaje has stuck with him. Following his win in the Southern Conference championship game, Agbaje patiently waited for a turn to get a picture with the trophy he and his team had earned, said Powell.

“He was just full of energy and joy for their accomplishments,” said Powell.

A GoFundMe was started in memory of him soon after his passing. Donations to the GoFundMe will be given to the faith-based charity, Bread for Haiti. In the fundraiser’s description, it explains that the charity was started by Agbaje’s mother, and seeks to “provide education, healthcare, clothing, and nutrition to the impoverished children of Haiti” who were impacted by the 2010 earthquake. 

The fundraiser aims to raise $190,000 — Agbaje’s number was 19 on the Mercer soccer team. 

“Because Baba was such a loving person, one of his joys was his mom's charitable organization, Bread for Haiti. Baba took several trips to Haiti to volunteer and see the fruition of God's work through the organization,” the description of the GoFundMe says. “While Baba will no longer spread his Joy, he would have loved to see the impact he left behind.”

Gabriel Kopp

Gabriel Kopp '26 is majoring in Journalism and Law and Public Policy at Mercer University. He has written for The Cluster since he started at Mercer, and currently works as the Sports Editor. When he isn't studying, he enjoys going for runs and reading the New York Times.


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