COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland community and Maryland men’s basketball team celebrated the life of manager Zach Lederer, 20, who passed away Tuesday after a courageous battle with brain cancer.
A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night outside Comcast Center, where more than 200 people gathered around the Testudo statue in remembrance of Lederer. A pair of shoes and a Maryland t-shirt and shorts were placed on the statue, in addition to a number of candles spelling out “ZL” which were placed at the base of Testudo.
Members from the men’s and women’s basketball teams were present to pay their respects, as Dez Wells and Spencer Barks shared a few words.
“I have the upmost respect for Zach,” Wells said. “He’s been an inspiration to all of us. Those hard times we have now won’t seem so hard anymore. Life is so much bigger than basketball or whatever sport you play and Zach taught us all that.”
“Zach was one of the greatest kids I’ve ever met in my entire life,” Barks said. “I saw myself in him. I loved that kid.”
Friends, fellow managers and others who were inspired by Lederer’s fight were also in attendance.
“Zach was one of the greatest guys I ever knew,” said senior psychology major Dylan Manning. “He was one of the first people I met in college when my roommate introduced me to him. He was always such a fun-loving guy, so energetic and full of life. He inspired me to be a better person, to do better things, to be happy and to always have fun.
At the end of the vigil, those in attendance gathered and chanted “Living the Dream” — Lederer’s motto during his fight against cancer.
Director of Athletics, Kevin Anderson
“Zach was a wonderful and special young man. He’ll always live close to my heart because of that contagious smile he had. If I was having a bad day, I would go down to practice and Zach’s smile would make everything better. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
Men’s basketball headcoach, Mark Turgeon
“My heart goes out to the Lederer family. Zach was an outstanding young man who was an inspiration to us all. He had a great passion for life and was a true fighter. Zach not only had a powerful impact on our program, but he touched the lives of so many people in our community. He is and always will be a part of our Maryland basketball family and will be greatly missed.”
Senior forward John Auslander
“He was one of the most positive, upbeat kids I’ve ever met. Every day he’d come in and greet me with a big smile.”
Senior manager Evan Lipinski
“Zach had a positive impact on my life and so many others. I’ll always know that I’ll be ‘living the dream’ in his honor.”
Sophomore guard Seth Allen
“My favorite memory about Zach is just how throughout his whole situation he would come to games and he would still do his best to Comcast. He would act like nothing was ever wrong and he would still have a smile on his face and he fought through everything he went through. And that’s big. So when we have our heads down or when we are feeling down, we will always think about Zack. When times are tough, we’ll remember that Zach kept always kept a smile on his face, so things can’t be as bad as they seem.”
Junior guard Nick Faust
“My favorite memory of Zach was when we were playing Miami a while back and we were down in the first half. We made a run in the second half and I got a big steal and came down the court and got an and-one in between two defenders. I flexed and did the “Zach” and he had a huge smile and I know he was proud of that. Zach being there every day pushing through his sickness really gave us a boost as a team. It made us work hard every day and made us realize things are bigger than basketball.”
Sophomore forward Charles Mitchell
“I posed for a picture two years ago “Zaching” after meeting one of the toughest dudes I know [on my recruit trip]. Zach inspired a lot of people with his continuous fight with brain cancer. I just want to say my prayers are with Zach and the Lederer family.”