SR: What was Keffer like growing up?
DM: (laughs) He was about like anyone and everyone. He was just an ordinary kid. He liked football and track and things like that.
SR: How many kids are there in the family?
DM: There are five of us total. With Keffer there were three brothers and two sisters. Keffer was the youngest.
SR: As his brother I know you all were always proud of your baby brother, but when did you realize he was really good?
DM: (laughs) I would say around his junior year. I didn’t play football, but my other brother Freddie he played football too. I think that is how it all really got started. When Freddie was playing football they had an undefeated regular season and I think Keffer was in the eighth or ninth grade when Freddie had that good season as a senior. I think that’s what made him really want to play.
SR: Growing up so close to the campus of Mississippi State were you glad to see him play so close to home?
DM: Yes, but I am not trying to be a bad person, but I was kind of partial towards Alabama. I liked the Crimson Tide a little bit, but Freddie liked Mississippi State a lot. I really didn’t have any idea which one (Keffer) would play for. He took a few of those official visits. He visited Alabama, Vanderbilt, State and I think maybe Jackson State.
SR: So did Keffer convert you to a Bulldog fan?
DM: (laughs) Yes, he kind of halfway pulled me in. I started going to their games then. He got me leaning toward the Bulldogs. I still check them out every now and again. I still go over there and watch them once or twice a year and if they are on TV I watch them.
SR: What did Keffer tell you about his adjustment to college life?
DM: I think it was pretty rough on him at first. He hurt his foot, so he had to redshirt that first year up there. He was doing a little summer job with my Mom and a pipe fell on his foot. I think that kind of put him down a little bit because he couldn’t play that first year. He used to talk a lot about how the guys up there were. He talked about I guess you would call it initiation, you know how the freshmen had to do all kind of stuff. He had to get used to things up there. He came from high school being the top dog to going to MSU and not really being the top dog anymore.
SR: I can only imagine how difficult the loss of Keffer was, but what did it mean to your family to see so many people you had never met care so deeply about you all?
DM: I know for me and for my Mom, I just couldn’t see any better gratitude and support than they all showed. It could not have been any better. They did a lot of the simple stuff that some people might overlook. We had a lot of people calling and sending food and things like that.
SR: Coach Sherrill told me one of the things that really helped him was when your mother went and spoke to the coaches and players. Were you with her when she spoke to the team?
DM: Yes, I took her up there. She told the guys to go ahead and hold their heads up and try and move on. She told them Keffer wouldn’t want them to get down and she knew that they would miss him. She told them that there would be tragedies in life and that is one of the things that builds character.
SR: What did it mean to you to see J.J. Johnson pay tribute to your brother every time he scored?
DM: It meant a lot to me especially from someone like him that really never got the chance to really know him. That just shows how the other guys and Coach Sherill looked up to Keffer.
SR: How is the McGee family today?
DM: Most Sundays, I guess for as long as I can remember, we all have had dinner at my Mom’s house. It is just a time to come together and enjoy the camaraderie. I would say that is one of the things we miss the most. When we would get together he would be there unless they were out of town or had to practice, because me and all my sisters and brothers were going to eat on Sunday at my Mom’s house as soon as we get back from church. We still do that.
SR: Do you all hear from any of Keffer’s friends?
DM: Yes, we do. We get letters from Nakia Greer and his family about every other month. Keffer was pretty popular, so we hear from some of the guys he played ball with in school and a lot of his friends that live around here.
SR: When you hear people talking about Keffer and how they will always remember him what does that mean to you?
DM: I have never heard anything negative or ill from any of them. Everything that I have heard has been positive all the way. I know a lot of people that work on campus over there and they tell me they go in the locker room and they still have his jersey in there. When people find out what my name is they all ask me if I knew Keffer. 99% of the people that are affiliated with Mississippi State have always had something positive to say.
SR: What would you like to say to Mississippi State fans?
DM: I would just like to tell them I appreciate everything they have done for us in our bereavement and to let them know we still appreciate them even though we may not have the contact with them that we would like to have. I think about him all the time, because I drive by there everyday. I thank all of them for the letters and cards and different things like that over the years. We appreciate all of them.
This interview concludes the story of Keffer McGee, but no story or series of interviews could ever fully illustrate the kind of person Keffer McGee was, nor how his life affected so many people. Keffer will live forever in the hearts and minds of those who knew him personally and those who followed him throughout his time at Mississippi State.
Always remember #21
Steve Robertson is a staff member of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.