Bailey Sloan dies in auto accident
Hearts are aching all across Davie County. Words can’t explain the sadness that is floating around after news of a car accident spread on April 28.
Bailey Sloan. Dead. It hardly seems real, and definitely not fair. The 2017 Davie High graduate is gone suddenly and far too young. He was 21.
Sloan – who was affectionately known as “Belly,” a nickname he picked up the summer before his senior year because his stomach was always showing below his football jersey – played two sports at Davie, the other lacrosse.
Sloan was the starting center on the offensive line in 2015 and 2016. As a senior, he helped the War Eagles to a fabulous season, going 12-2 overall, winning the conference with a 6-0 sweep and finishing tied for the second-most wins in program history. The only losses were to the eventual 4A champion, Dudley. The home loss in the quarterfinals drew the curtain on old War Eagle Stadium.
Sloan did the grunt work in the trenches with Luke Pratapas, Zach Clubb, Ross Starnes, Dex Bray, Preston Robertson and Marvin Del Cid.
But Sloan entered the program as a defensive lineman. After his sophomore year, he switched to o-line. The move paid off handsomely for “Belly” and Davie.
“It was not until an opportunity to help the team by playing center did I get to know him on an everyday personal level,” Davie OL coach Jimmie Welch said. “I was blessed from that point on by knowing and coaching him. Bailey helped lead a group of young men through an amazing season.”
Coaches Tim Devericks and Welch and the 2015-16 quarterback, Chris Reynolds, couldn’t say enough great things about Bailey. He was a low-ego, low-maintenance guy. He was always talking and laughing and smiling. He was just a guy you wanted on your team.
“Speechless is what I responded when asked about receiving the news that Bailey had passed away,” Welch said. “Upon thinking about Bailey, though, ‘speechless’ definitely does not describe him. I was always amazed by his humility and his ability to make fun of himself to help others laugh. Bailey was a young man that wore his emotions on his sleeve and played with a fire burning in his gut – the same belly he often shaved into different images and matched his crazy hairdos. He was liked by everyone and was selfless. I hate this for his family and friends. He will be dearly missed.”
Head coach Devericks said: “Bailey was a fantastic young man who was willing to help do anything for anybody that he could. His senior season he and his teammates had a bond that I have never seen before. It was truly remarkable. Bailey was a great competitor and was always looking for ways to improve himself so the team could improve. Bailey loved DC and would tell anybody about it.”
Reynolds: “He was a defensive lineman and they asked him to switch over, and he did it in a heartbeat. And he took pride in it. He wanted to protect and be there for me and be there for Cooper (Wall) and all the other guys. That’s how he lived his life with everything. Whether it was going out and painting the field or hanging out with us outside of football, he always genuinely cared for everybody else first and always found excitement and happiness in others.”
Reynolds checked his text messages from Bailey. One of the last ones he sent summed him perfectly.
“He sent a SportsCenter video of me (playing quarterback for the Charlotte 49ers),” Reynolds said. “He said: ‘Dude, look what I saw. This is awesome.’ I was with him a few weeks ago. We were playing a little pickup baseball, and you would have thought we just got out of high school a week ago. Some things don’t change. He was always happy to see the people that he loved.”
Ask anybody and Sloan was impossible not to like.
“My boys (Ben and Will) are heartbroken, as so many of his friends,” Kim Summers said. “Every time he came to the house, he always had a smile, showed respect and was so grateful. I’m going to miss feeding him.”
“He was always so nice to everyone,” said Melissa Boswell, a teacher at Davie. “He always had a smile on his face.”
“One of the truly good kids,” said Raymonda Shelton, the assistant principal at William R. Davie.
There is a photo of Reynolds carrying the ball in a 2015 playoff game at Scotland County. The photo says it all. Sloan is in the background with his hands up, signaling touchdown.
“This picture describes him perfectly,” Reynolds said. “He always put others before himself. He found pure joy and happiness in watching others succeed. He was pure Davie County and pure heart. With everything he did, he didn’t do it out of self-satisfaction. It was always for the sake of others.
“Bailey lived with a smile on his face. He’s a brother for life and we’re going to miss him so much. Our great small town and I love you, Bailey.”
Sloan’s outgoing, upbeat presence shined brighter than ever the week of the North Davidson game in 2016. On that Friday night at home, Davie prevailed in one of the all-time shootouts, 45-42.
“We were preparing for North Davidson and it had been a difficult week already,” Devericks said. “As we are getting ready for practice, it starts to pour. We adjust the schedule to watch film, lift to let the rain pass and then go practice. When we start to head outside, the field is soaked. There are players moaning and groaning about how wet it is. Bailey takes a 20-yard head start and slides on his belly in about an inch of water. He changed the whole outlook of practice that day and we had a great one.”
Tragedy brought unfathomable loss on April 28, 2020. Davie football/lacrosse players from 2013-17 must remember their teammate, pick up the pieces and go on. But Bailey “Belly” Sloan will always live in their hearts and minds.
“We will honor Bailey’s memory this year by bringing the No. 50 jersey with us to every game,” Devericks said. “No player will wear No. 50 this year.”