NORFOLK, Va. — The community came together to honor the passing of a legend.
Olympic gold medalist and champion boxer Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker died after being hit by a car in Virginia Beach late Sunday night. The Norfolk native was considered one of the best lightweight boxers to ever live.
Friends, family, and fans all gathered for a vigil Tuesday night on the PB Young School Grounds in Norfolk. The event had to be moved from Whitaker Lane because of the stage.
Speakers for the event included Mayor Kenny Alexander, Councilman Paul Riddick, Delegate Jay Jones, Councilwoman Angelia Willams Graves, Councilman Michael Berlucchi, Councilman Aaron Rouse and Honorable Lakeesha “Klu” Atkinson. Other dignitaries were at the event to honor the Champ.
Mayor Alexander called Whitaker the "son of Norfolk" and credited him for putting Norfolk on the map.
According to Virginia Beach Police, Whitaker died after he was hit by a car on Northampton Boulevard around 10 p.m. Sunday. Investigators said the driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene.
People who knew the boxing legend said he overcame several obstacles and was a great friend and mentor to many.
"You talk about coming from Young's Park, one of the most impoverished communities we have in Virginia and in the country, and Sweet Pea made it known that you can make it out and aspire to the heights of the world," said Virginia Beach City Councilman Aaron Rouse.