BALLARD — Former WVU football player Steve Newberry says he wasn’t surprised to learn that Taylor Robertson had a lot of success as a video gamer playing the game of football in the Madden series.
Newberry, who helped coached Robertson during his playing days at James Monroe High School, said as a free safety and running back Robertson was a coach on the field.
“He was a good athlete who could do a lot of things. A very cerebral player. A great teammate,” Newberry remembered Monday of Robertson, a 2009 James Monroe graduate. “I’m sure those (Madden) players must have a pretty good sense for the game. When I heard he was a successful player that didn’t surprise me a bit.”
Robertson, 27, of the Monroe County community of Ballard, was shot and killed Sunday in the mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida. He was part of a Madden NFL 19 tournament with hopes of advancing to the national finals in Las Vegas. Robertson and Eli “trueboy” Clayton, 22, of California were allegedly shot and killed by fellow gamer, David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Investigators have not released a possible motive.
Katz lost in the tournament Saturday and returned to Jacksonville Landing on Sunday with a gun, authorities said.
Robertson was born and raised in Monroe County. His father played football with Newberry at the old Peterstown High School.
“I just feel so badly for them. I just can’t imagine how they are feeling,” Newberry said.
Monroe County Clerk Donnie Evans said Taylor seemed to have a talent for football at an early age.
“I watched him play ball from the time he was able to hold a ball until he graduated at James Monroe. He was just an outstanding young man. It’s just sickening that this has happened,” Evans said.
Evans said Robertson went to college after high school. He married his girlfriend Holly. They had a little boy, Reed, a couple of years ago.
“It was just kind of the fairy tale story. He had a good job, he worked at First Community Bank, you know, playing by the rules and doing what he was supposed to be doing,” Evans said.
Robertson was employed at the bank’s corporate center in Bluefield, Virginia. He played Madden on the side to earn extra money and it appears he was pretty good at it. Reports indicate he had career earnings of more than $80,000. He won the Madden NFL 17 Classic. He was known in the gaming world as ‘SpotMePlzz.”
But to those back home he was Taylor, a star player at James Monroe and just overall good guy, Newberry said.
“My wife and I ran into him and Holly, his wife, a few months ago in Lowe’s and we just stood and talked for a while. Same old Taylor,” Newberry recalled. “We were laughing about different things, remembering different things of his playing days.”
Monroe County is a tight-knit community and Newberry and Evans agreed losing Taylor was going to hurt for a while.
“It’s just a very somber, quiet place this morning,” Evans said.
Newberry said Holly and the rest of Robertson family will find the support they need.
“I know they will have a great deal of support from everyone in the community. There will certainly be people to help them out however they need it. It’s going to be a tough, tough thing for them. I know they will have a lot of love and support and with all of the prayers from everyone—hopefully that will make it a little bit easier,” Newberry said. “He was a special guy. I don’t know how else to describe him. Just a decent, good person.”
First Community Bank issued the following statement Monday afternoon:
“We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Taylor Robertson. Taylor was a member of our commercial underwriting team and had established himself as a very considerate and dependable team member as well as a very technically gifted underwriter. Taylor will be deeply missed by his friends and co-workers here at First Community, and we offer our prayers and heartfelt condolences to his wife, young son, and entire family, as well as the families of the other victims.”