The late Harrison Hooks loved Georgia football more than just about anything in life.
Now Hooks and his beloved Bulldogs are connected forever.
This past week, the Hooks family gathered together as a Georgia-themed tombstone and slab were placed upon Harrison’s grave in Thomasville, Ga., which is located 240 miles south of Athens. The 8-year-old died in an ATV accident last January.
“We wanted to tell a story with his monument,” Harrison’s father, Bill Hooks, told DawgNation.
“You go into a cemetery, and you can see people’s names, along with when they lived and when they died. But you don’t know anything about them. For our family — especially Harrison – it’s all about faith, family and Georgia football.
“If Harrison were here, he would think it (the monument) was the greatest thing in the world.”
The tombstone has the Georgia “G” with a cross on it, along with a Bible verse (Philippians 4:13) underneath. The slab was carefully designed and etched to resemble a full-length football field, and has the bulldogs mascot with a cross on it at midfield.
Harrison’s mother, Deren, came up with the idea. It was a lengthy process to construct the customized slab, taking around seven months to complete, and required a coordinated effort between sculptors located in both South and North Georgia.
The Hooks and their two children (ages 6 and 3) were truly impressed when they saw the finished product.
“It’s unbelievable — it really captures who Harrison was,” Bill said.
“Harrison loved God. We have faith on there. He loved family. The family names are all on the back (of the monument). And then we love Georgia football.
“To see that football field laying in front of him … I can just see Harrison looking down and smiling.”
Georgia football made Harrison smile a lot. The Hooks are season-ticket holders, and Bill knew instantly when he took Harrison to his first Bulldogs game that they were in his heart.
“We were playing Nicholls State, and he couldn’t take his eyes off the field,” Bill recalled with a laugh. “He would not let me leave our seats until all the players had left the field.
“At seven years old, he informed us that he was going to Georgia to play football, and he knew who his roommate would be at Georgia (his best friend at elementary school). He would watch re-runs of Georgia games during the week on his iPad. He knew everyone’s jersey number. He just loved Georgia.”
Back to the newly-erected, Bulldogs-themed tombstone: The Hooks family has also heard from UGA football coach Kirby Smart, who brought the tragedy to the attention of many last January by tweeting out a request for Georgia fans to wear red and black colors on the Friday after the accident to honor Harrison’s memory. They have a mutual friend in the sister of former Bulldogs assistant Mike Bobo.
“(She) sent Kirby a picture of the (monument), and he texted her back, saying that he hoped we as a family are healing from this.”
And how is the family these days? “We’re doing OK. Having two other children has really made us move forward.
“We’ve just gotten so much comfort from God, our family, our church, and all of our friends. It still hurts, and we’re still sad.
“But it’s one of those things where we’re not sad as people who have no hope. We have hope that Harrison is in heaven. We have hope that we’ll see him again one day. So that’s what keeps us going.”