The family of the late Palmetto Ridge wrestler created a scholarship to help Collier County athletes Naples Daily News


In addition to being determined, adventurous and funny, Colby Singletary always was willing to help anyone he could.

That’s how Niki Singletary remembers her son, the Palmetto Ridge High School football and wrestling star who died in a car crash in July 2019 before his senior year.

Although Singletary is gone, his family is making sure his memory lives on and helps local students through the Colby Singletary Scholarship Fund. The idea for the charity came up two days after the Bears' two-time state champion wrestler was killed July 6, 2019.

From there, the idea blossomed and culminated in Thursday’s virtual awards ceremony in which the family announced the winners of the inaugural Colby Singletary Scholarships.

“He was always very helpful,” Niki Singletary said of her son. “He helped the community; he helped kids. Even if someone needed something as simple as a (vehicle) tow, Colby was always there.

“We felt like this was something he would like. He was always a giver, so this is nice.”

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Despite the coronavirus pandemic limiting the Singletarys’ ability to fund-raise, family members handed out $7,000 in college money in their first year. Niki Singletary announced the six winners on a Zoom call, which she hosted from her best friend  Teonta Tems' restaurant, Nana’s Diner in Golden Gate.

Palmetto Ridge seniors Trillyon Fils-Aime, a Bears wrestler and football player just like Colby, and Laurah Jean, a track athlete and cheerleader, won the top male and female awards. Both were awarded $2,500.

Four $500 winners also were announced Thursday — wrestler Adrian Ayala, football player Ethan Pratt, track athlete and cheerleader Natiri Walton, and cheerleader Olivia Yanes.

The scholarship fund’s board of directors limited this year’s awards to Palmetto Ridge seniors since it would have been Singletary’s graduating class. Starting next year, seniors from all Collier County high schools can apply. The only requirement is that applicants must have competed in two years of sports.

“We want to keep Colby’s winning attitude and spirit alive,” Niki Singletary said. “He loved his friends and community. We wanted to do something to honor him while also giving back to Collier County athletes.”

Winning the scholarship was especially touching for Fils-Aime, who played two sports with Singletary.

Last summer, he discussed what it would take for Fils-Aime to win a state title like Singletary had done the previous two seasons. This year, Fils-Aime captured the state title and dedicated it to his lost friend.

Last week, Fils-Aime was selected the Naples Daily News Overall Male Athlete of the Year — the same award Singletary won two years before when he won his first state title.

“After everything that happened, my goal is to do everything in Colby’s honor,” said Fils-Aime, who will wrestle at Southeastern University next year. “I do everything with Colby in my thoughts. To win this award, it feels good to cap it all off.”

Jean, the top female winner, knew Singletary since elementary school, when she was a cheerleader and he was a player for the Naples Bears youth football league. Jean is headed to the University of Florida, where she will study pre-med in hopes of getting into dental school.

“This means so much,” Jean said. “I’m very proud that I get to represent the Colby Singletary Scholarship Fund but also that they thought I was worthy enough to win.”

Then she added: “Live like Colby.”