RACINE — A large crowd gathered Sunday afternoon at a makeshift memorial at 1231 Yout St. They were pausing to remember Marcus D. Caldwell Jr., a 20-year-old former Horlick High School basketball standout, who was fatally shot on that block Saturday.
At the memorial, signing a basketball in memory of “Baby Lebron,” was 18-year-old Allieas Williams, a 2020 Horlick High School graduate who had known Caldwell since elementary school.
“I always looked up to Marcus as a big brother because I don’t have brothers myself,” Williams said. “Marcus always looked out for me — to pick me up, to make sure I was always good. I miss him a lot.
“It hurts knowing that Marcus isn’t here. It’s hard, knowing he’s gone, but he’s still here in heart, in spirit.”
Williams decried the increasing gun and gang violence in the neighborhood.
“It’s sad that it’s coming to gun violence instead of just talking it out,” he said. “It’s stooped down to a whole ‘nother level where people got to bring guns into this stupid stuff.”
When choosing a career path, a lot of coaches want to make a positive difference in players’ lives. But for Jason Treutelaar, Horlick High School boys basketball coach, Caldwell was someone who made a positive difference on his coach.
Caldwell graduated from Horlick in 2018. A three-year varsity player, Caldwell touched Treutelaar’s family as well, forming bonds with his wife and children.
“He would pick up my kids and give my wife a hug. That was one thing Marcus was really good at,” Treutelaar said. “He knew the art of the hug. He would have his arm around me whether I liked it or not.”
Imagine Treutelaar’s grief when he heard one of his favorite players died over the weekend.
“It’s just really sad when you think about a life cut way to short because he really was a neat character,” Treutelaar said.
‘He brought that sunshine to practice’
Treutelaar described Caldwell as “a very successful basketball player and quite the competitor.” Caldwell made first team All-Southeast Conference and second team All-Racine County, and played in the 2018 Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association All-Star Game.
“He was quite a contributor for three years and he was very talented,” Treutelaar said.
Caldwell was a three-year varsity letter winner, and stayed on track academically, Treutelaar said: “Basketball helped keep him in line.”
Caldwell kept practices fun and was a positive young man who had fun every time he stepped onto the hardwood, Treutelaar said. He treated everyone the same, regardless of skill level or playing time, and liked to mess around, sometimes goofing off a little too much; he would light up a room and loved everybody, Treutelaar said.
“He brought that sunshine to practice every day. If there was one thing you could count on with Marcus, it’s that he’s going to have fun and you’re going to have fun with him.”
Treutelaar said Caldwell would even settle his coach down at times, telling him things were going to be OK. He continued his love for basketball by coaching Optimist Youth Basketball last year.
Caldwell’s grin was his trademark, Treutelaar said: “He had a smile that was infectious. He was a happy guy, you just didn’t see him angry or upset in a negative way.”
He was an active father to his daughter, who was born when he was a freshman, Treutelaar said. He was proud of her and made sure they were in each other’s lives; she often came to games and practices.
Caldwell’s family could not be reached as The Journal Times went to press.
Planning to remember
While Treutelaar is grieving, he said the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that students can’t come into the high school makes it difficult to connect with others who are feeling the same way.
Once plans are announced for some type of service or remembrance for Caldwell’s life, Treutelaar said, he’s going to get coaches and current and former basketball players together to honor his life and his daughter.
Treutelaar said he will always remember Caldwell: “He was a joy to be around, aside from so many other people. I love them (the players) all, but there’s just some guys you develop closer bonds with. He was one of them.”
“It’s sad that it’s coming to gun violence instead of just talking it out ... It’s stooped down to a whole ‘nother level where people got to bring guns into this stupid stuff.” Allieas Williams, friend of Marcus Caldwell Jr.
Eric Johnson of The Journal Times contributed to this report.
“It’s sad that it’s coming to gun violence instead of just talking it out ... It’s stooped down to a whole ‘nother level where people got to bring guns into this stupid stuff."
Allieas Williams, friend of Marcus Caldwell Jr.