The United Soccer League, Phoenix Rising, Big Ten Conference along with many others are grieving the loss of a Valley rising star.
20-year-old Carter Payne, was an excellent teammate according to Darin Van Tassell owner and president of Tormenta FC in Stateboro, Georgia, just an hour west of Savannah.
"He was serious about the game, he spent time learning how to be a professional. He had aspirations of that,” said Van Tassell.
Police said Payne was reportedly riding an electric scooter in Statesboro when he was hit by a car.
Officials say they are still looking for the driver of the car.
The 20-year-old was airlifted to a hospital where he died after days on life support.
We’re devastated about the loss of Carter Payne and send our condolences to Carter's family and to his soccer families at @Tormenta_FC, @SportingArizona, @umichsoccer and @BarcaAcademyAZ.— Phoenix Rising FC (@PHXRisingFC) July 11, 2022
If you're able to, please donate to the Carter Payne Fund below. https://t.co/6WosvVaZ9v
Van Tassell tells ABC15 he picked up Payne’s family who flew from Phoenix to Georgia to be with their son in his final moments.
”Tough decision to move your son off life support, decided to donate organs,” said Van Tassell over a Zoom call on Monday.
Payne was playing on Tormenta FC’s second team, Van Tassell says they were considering a professional contract to “speedy” talent.
In the fall, Payne planned to go back to Ann Arbor where he played for the Michigan Wolverines.
Payne began his soccer career in the Valley, at Shadow Mountain, for the start of his high school career. He later took his skills to the Barcelona Residency Academy in Casa Grande.
Although he never played for Phoenix Rising FC, Defender Channing Chasten from Queen Creek shared a text message about his late friend.
“I knew Carter ever since I was about 14, we would play pick up together and remained close through the game and hung out several times outside of soccer. He was always someone I could relate to, He went to the university of Michigan and I went to Ohio state so we were rivals but whenever we played after the game we would always share a moment together. We talked about making it to the top together and for him there is no way I will stop until I make it to the top in his honor. I lost a true friend but know he is in a better place. God has greater plans for him", said Chasten.
Tormenta FC honoring their rising star by putting his jersey on the bench while the first men’s team played over the weekend. The team also started a scholarship in his name with some proceeds going to his family.
Van Tassel shared what happened moments after he learned of Payne’s passing, “We scored right as he was taken off life support. It felt quite magical, it felt higher power. It was the second goal of the game. As I told you, Carter wore Number 2,” he said.