Family of murdered Union man who left lasting impact on community, carrying on his legacy

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – A humble man who truly cared about his community and the people in it. That’s how Michael Land is being remembered, eight months after his murder. His legacy is being carried on in Union through the ball field he devoted countless hours to and his annual back-to-school supply drive.

Behind a wired fence, sits a Union ball field that’s nestled in a special part of Mary Lee Gist & Jackie Land-Strahan’s hearts.

“This field is where he spent much of his time growing up, playing sports,” Michael Land’s Aunt, Jackie Land-Strahan told us.

They’re the only ones you see standing on it right now. But as they walk along the trimmed grass, they told us they don’t feel so alone.

“He’s always with us, I miss him,” said Michael Land’s Mother, Mary Lee Gist.

Mary Lee Gist is talking about her son, Michael Land. Police said he was killed in his home on Woodlawn Avenue last December.

Union Police Chief Robbie McGee told us, they’ve had leads through the last couple of months but none of them ended in an arrest.

“We’ve gone to various towns and talked to several different people. So far, nothing has really panned out so we’re still waiting on more leads. Anything could come in,” said Union Police Chief, Robbie McGee.

Land’s family told 7 News, his death has been devastating.

“Still needing answers but at the same time, still trying to carry on and push forward,” Land-Strahan told 7 News.

They’re doing just that though by planting his name on a place he turned into a safe haven for children in his community.

“He basically used his own funds, his own tools, his own materials. This is something that was very important for Michael,” said Land-Strahan.

He kept the grass cut and the field maintained at the Chambertown ball field in Union. That’s on top of mentoring and coaching not only these kids, but people of all ages.

“He was truly passionate about ensuring the children in his community were taken care of, despite the many unfortunate situations they face daily,” Land-Strahan explained.

Another way he did that was through his back-to-school supply drive he held every year, which his family is carrying on now.

Although there are still a lot of unanswered questions about his death, his name will very soon grace the field where his family said, he touched so many lives and continues to now.

Land’s family is asking this community he served to help with solving his death. If you know anything about what happened, they’re urging you to speak up and call police or Crime Stoppers at (864) 427-0800.

An organization has been created in Michael’s name, that’s the “Live Like Mike Foundation.”​ A ceremony unveiling the renaming of the field in Land’s honor is slated for Saturday at 10 A.M. That’s at the Chambertown ball field.

Back-to-school supplies are being collected now. You can donate a handful of supplies including clothes, pencils, pens, paper, backpacks, glue, tape, calculators, notebooks, erasers, rulers, Sharpies and scissors.

Donations can be brought to the Chambertown ball field starting at 8 A.M. Saturday.

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