AUSTIN, Texas — As family and friends gathered to remember Cedric Benson Thursday at a vigil to honor the University of Texas and NFL star, a special announcement was made that Austin Mayor Steve Adler has declared Aug. 22, 2019, "Cedric Benson Day."

The vigil was put on in part by Benson's friend and former Texas Longhorns teammate, Will Matthews.

"We wanted to celebrate the peace and the joy and the truth and the deadpan humor that this guy had and that he left with us," Matthews said.

Mathews told KVUE he spent the weekend with Benson and their families a little more than a week before the crash that claimed his friend's life.

Benson and his passenger, 27-year-old Aamna Najam, were both killed when their motorcycle collided with an SUV at the intersection of RM 2222 and Mount Bonnell Road on Saturday. Benson was 36.

The vigil took place at 7:32 p.m. on Thursday at University Baptist Church. 

"When they would laugh about a funny story tonight or they would talk to somebody else, I was like, 'There he is,'" Matthews said.

Benson sported number 32 when he played for the Longhorns, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Green Bay Packers.

Organizers asked well-wishers to leave flowers at the bottom of Mount Bonnell in Benson's memory.

"Even though in this form and in this life, I won't see him in the way that I always did, he's in here and he's out there and if you look for him, you'll find him," Matthews said.

Benson's public funeral services are set to begin at 11 a.m. at the St. James Missionary Baptist Church on Saturday. There is supposed to be a separate service with visiting hours on Friday at the Cook-Walden Funeral Home. Visiting hours are slated for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, with family visiting hours from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A private interment is set to be held at Texas State Cemetery.

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