ATLANTA — Earnest Radcliff first met Jatonne Sterling at 12 years old when he coached Sterling in both his football and baseball programs.
"Coach, I will be your next best player," a young Sterling told Radcliff.
Radcliff also coached the 20-year-old Clark Atlanta baseball player during his time at Morgan Park High School. The coach said he was an honor roll student.
"A great community person at Morgan Park High School. He was outstanding, treated the elderly and women with much respect," he added.
Radcliff last talked to Sterling a week ago, where he shared an update about his grades and his hobby of rapping. The coach said he had many aspirations of what he wanted to do in life and always knew he would go places.
When Radcliff first learned about Sterling's passing, he cried, "please don't tell me it's true."
Sterling was gunned down at the Lyke House Catholic Center at the Atlanta University Center Tuesday.
The shooting appeared to be concentrated at the center's parking lot.
Officers with Atlanta Police said he was found with several gunshot wounds. Police believe the shooting was a targeted attack that may have stemmed from a dispute.
"I don't have any words to describe the hurt for this young man," said Radcliff.
Radcliff said Sterling was like a son to him. Sterling lost his father at a young age, and his coach said he stepped in to help the family. The two would often do media events together during his time in high school.
"This man was very articulate," Radcliff added. "He was my right hand man. He was the guy that I would put in the cameras."
Sterling's mom arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday just minutes after 11Alive's Brittany Kleinpeter spoke with the coach.
"No parent should have to bury their child," he added.
Police are still looking for the person who shot and killed Sterling.
APD said their investigation remains ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to call CrimeStoppers at 404-577-TIPS(8477). You can also submit an anonymous tip online.