A Valley community is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Rene Ayala was a star running back in Mercedes and someone who some say left an impact in the community.
“Everywhere we went, there was always people that would bring up stories of him in football,” said Rene’s eldest son, Rene Ayala Jr.
In 1995, Ayala lost his arms and legs in a fire.
His brother in law, Jesse Rodriguez said Ayala’s organs almost shut down.
“He went through a lot of skin rash, he went through a lot of pain you know sometimes he would call me crying because of what happened,” said Jesse.
Jesse said Ayala was invested in his children’s’ lives and did everything he can to make ends meet.
“My dad was my hero,” said his daughter, Lorena Ayala.
“He’s done everything, what any average human with arms and legs can do,” said Rene’s youngest son, Derrick Ayala.
“But he did it better despite his disabilities,” added Rene Jr.
He passed down his love for football to his sons and coached the sport.
“There was never a time that I doubted his capability to coach me. He always had this way of just gaining our respect from the get-go,” said Curtis Rodriguez. He adds that Ayala took him in as his own.
Ayala never let his disabilities stop him from helping others. In fact, he helped people recover from the June floods.
“Him and his sons, they went out and helped a whole lot of neighbors in cleaning homes, taking out debris, pulling out wet carpet, I mean you name it,” said Israel Coronado who said he met Rene during the floods.
“This guy was out in the sun cutting yards, he’s out there shoveling sheet rock, he’s out there unloading a trailer of bricks,” said John Maldonado, a friend of Rene’s whom he met as their sons played football together.
Ayala always put others before himself.
“He never thought about the consequences that helping someone would have on him,” said Curtis. “He was already in need and he still gave more you know, he never stopped giving.”
Ayala passed away Sunday from a heart attack.
Ayala’s family and friends participated in a caravan to drive him past his home one last time Friday morning.