Vigil held in memory of Southwest DeKalb football coach

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Hundreds of people attended a vigil for a beloved DeKalb County coach Sunday night.

Players, students and families filled the auditorium at Southwest DeKalb High School to honor the life of Michael Tanks, 48.  The dedicated coach and father of two passed away Wednesday after suffering a stroke in late July.

"He was just a phenomenal, phenomenal person and I think this [vigil] is a testament to that," said Tanks's wife, Nichelle Tanks, who spoke at the event.

Tanks graduated from Southwest DeKalb in the mid-1980s and was named an All-American his senior year.  He continued his football career as an offensive lineman at Florida State University. 

In recent years, Tanks returned to his alma mater as a teacher and head football coach.  This season, he planned to take his team all the way to the state championship. 

"If they do the things that he has taught them in the classroom, on the field and their responsibilities at home, we'll make it to the Dome," said Mrs. Tanks.  "But if we don't, as long as they learn those life lessons, then it's all worthwhile." 

Funeral services for Tanks will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 13 at St. Phillip AME Church which is located at 240 Candler Road in Decatur.