At Christmastime, Livingstone Harriott Jr. likes to sing carols with his church choir at the Arbors Assisted Living facilities in Islandia. “Every year, the people there are in a good mood. It’s very upbeat. It’s a good time,” Harriott said.
These are good times for the Central Islip High School Renaissance Man — football player, track star, “A” student and pillar of the community — who hit all the right notes as he closed out his high school career in grand fashion.
Harriott capped an honors-filled senior year by being selected as the third recipient of the Marcus A. Henry Award, presented by Newsday to Long Island’s top high school student-citizen-athlete.
Just hours after humbly accepting the award at a ceremony June 25 at United Methodist Church in Central Islip, where he not only sings in the choir but participates in a food pantry that provides Thanksgiving meals to the homeless and is the emcee for an annual Valentine’s Day charity event, Harriott hopped on a plane to California, where the Central Islip High School choir did a performance tour this past week.
“We’re on our way to Monterey right now. The scenery is beautiful,” Harriott said during a cell-phone interview early last week while his bus traversed the Pacific Coast Highway. The choir had performed at Disneyland’s Diamond Anniversary celebration the day before and also did shows in Los Angeles, Monterey, San Pablo and San Francisco.
It seems there is always a song in his heart, and it will be with him when Harriott embarks on his next adventure — playing football and studying computer engineering at Brown University.
His soaring spirit was evident on the athletic fields, where he was a star wide receiver/defensive back in football and an elite jumper and sprinter in track; in the classroom, where he carried a 96.69 unweighted GPA and was ranked No. 7 out of 491 students in his class, and in the community, where he has done volunteer cleanups, tutored children in math and reading at the Central Islip library, and participated in myriad church activities.
For all that and more, Harriott is the embodiment of the award that is named for Newsday sports reporter Marcus A. Henry, a man who loved sports but also was a community leader and a dedicated journalist. Henry died April 1, 2014.
“Everyone knows about Marcus Henry. He was what everyone wanted as a co-worker, person and friend,” Harriott said. “That’s why this award is so special for me.”
Earlier in June, Harriott won the male Dellecave Award given to Suffolk’s top scholar-athlete, and in the fall, he won the LaBue Award as Suffolk County’s top football scholar-athlete.
His parents, Livingstone Harriott Sr. and Michele Harriott, tremendous influences in his life, were present for those ceremonies and most of his athletic events. He was a three-year starter in football and captain in his senior year. In track, he was a four-year varsity performer in winter and spring, earning numerous league, county and state honors.
“He’s an extremely gifted athlete with an impeccable work ethic,” Central Islip winter and spring track coach Christian Pisano said. “He’s wonderful in so many ways. He’s a leader, a tireless worker with a refuse-to-lose attitude. And he gives back to our community and our younger students, and that makes a great impression on everyone.”
Central Islip High School principal Brett MacMonigle called Harriott “a once-in-a-lifetime student-athlete. He’s the perfect role model. The other students really look up to him.”
Central Islip athletic director Larry Philips likened Harriott to “a five-tool player in baseball,” citing him for outstanding “character, athletics, academics, leadership and community service.”
“LJ [his nickname] is so well-rounded, I sometimes forget how gifted athletically he is,” Philips said. “LJ is extremely smart and extremely athletic and makes it look easy. But the reason he makes it look easy is because of the inordinate amount of time he spent studying, practicing and honing his craft. He lives for competition, whether in the classroom or on the field. That’s why he commands so much respect.”
Humility is another of his traits, and Harriott said he got that from his father, who was a multiple All-American in track at New York Institute of Technology. He won twice at the prestigious Penn Relays but doesn’t display his medals at home. “He keeps the awards locked up. He’s so humble, and that’s why I stay humble,” Harriott Jr. said.
He is looking forward to going to Brown on Aug. 15 “to start camp, start working out and start meeting new people. It’s time to get into the mode of playoff football and doing schoolwork,” Harriott said.
He hopes to turn his computer technology studies into a career in software development and design, specifically the automotive industry. “I want to design the perfect car,” he said.
One that undoubtedly will have a superb sound system.
Previous winners of Newsday’s Marcus A. Henry Award
2014 – Joe Percival, St. Anthony’s
2015 – Thomas Cutinella, Shoreham-Wading River