I first saw Steve Neal at Buchanan Junior High, and I think he was the tallest person I ever personally knew. He had every reason to act like he was big-man-on-campus as the center for the basketball team there, and later on several outstanding teams as a Leto Senior High Fighting Falcon. He topped out at about 6-11, and after his seasons at Leto he was recruited by many schools, landing at Georgia Tech of the ACC. Yet he was always a humble, happy, and genuinely good soul for all the time I knew him, even when he struggled with the hurdles life puts in all of our way.
As a sophomore at Leto, I remember being the shortest part of the front line in volleyball during gym, flanked by Steve and Jacob Knight, and I don't think we ever lost a match while concentrating on that discipline, at least that is how I want to remember it. I think he would have helped anyone if they asked for it, and in my mind I can just see him grinning with long hair. He worked as a corrections officer for a while, and I did a stint as a juvenile corrections officer too. I think he sold batteries for a while, and was involved in construction recently. I recall him contacting me a few years back, mostly on Facebook, and we would trade emails. He struggled with some things, but he seemed to find increasing solace and support in his faith.
I send my condolences to his family, friends, and classmates, who I know all mourn his passing yesterday and will always keep him fondly in their hearts.