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Padecky: Mendocino's Reed Carter rises above personal tragedy

  • Mendocino High football player Reed Carter and his father, Mike, sit on a bluff in the Mendocino Headlands. Every year on his mother's birthday, Reed spreads some of her ashes into the ocean. (THE PRESS DEMOCRAT)

MENDOCINO - A life invisible is a life wasted. Haley Casey didn’t know it but she was about to reveal the distance between that thought and Reed Carter. Casey was a server at The Flow, a restaurant with a second-story view of the Pacific Ocean. Reed, 18, and his 72-year old father, Mike, had sat down for a newspaper interview when Casey approached the table.

“Hi, Reed,” she said.

“Hey, Casey,” he said.

“So you know this guy?” I said.

Casey looked at me like I had deer antlers coming out of my nose, incredulous she was.

“Reed is Mendocino’s Golden Boy,” Casey said. “That’s what everyone around here calls him.”

Carter, a senior at Mendocino High School, lowered his gaze and gave the impression he was ready to talk about something else, anything else, like the making of cardboard boxes. Still, Carter is not called The Golden Boy without reason.

Carter is his high school’s 2013 Homecoming King. His girlfriend of four years, Shanti Marcello, is the Homecoming Queen. She is as pretty as he is handsome. He is student body vice president. He carries a 4.0 grade point average. He helps other students with their homework. He is the school’s Rally Commissioner, meaning he organizes after-school student activities. He has just received a $1,000 scholarship from the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame to apply to his university studies.

Oh yes, in his three years on the football team Carter has accumulated 4,534 yards total offense and 79 touchdowns while leading his team to 19 consecutive victories. Carter has been named Most Valuable Player in the NCL III for the past two seasons while being chosen to the league’s first team on both offense and defense during that same time.

Carter’s got the girl, the grades, the awards, the looks, the personality and the grown-ups’ seal of approval. He is a Norman Rockwell painting, Americana in living color and texture. He appears to have everything any teenager could ever want, that his life must be a sweet dream, a giggling hayride, the sun always warming his back. Yes, from the outside, that’s what his life appears to be.

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