Lelan LeDoux, a staff sports writer for The Miami Hurricane, the University of Miami student newspaper, asked me if he could voice his thoughts on Sean Taylor. Lelan, who I see at football practices and basketball games, deserved his shot. And here it is...
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From the days when he laid his body on the line here at the U to his best performance in the NFL, Taylor was not just a football player, but an idol to me.
I was always inspired by how much heart he showed on the field. Any Hurricane fan would be heartened by his play. We will all remember the two interceptions he had against Ohio State in the 2002 BCS National Championship game during his sophomore year. We will remember the spectacular performances he had against rival Florida State and the game when he completely shut down Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. We all know he tied a school record with ten interceptions in a season and was a finalist the Jim Thorpe award that year. We all know he was called “Meast” by his teammates because he was half man and half beast on the field. “Meast” was truly one of the best defensive backs in school history and was on his way to the top in the NFL.
Even though I’m not on the football team, Sean Taylor was the main reason why I came to the University of Miami—the main reason. Taylor was always an inspiration to me and I want to walk in the footsteps of this phenomenal athlete even though it won’t be in the same way on the football field.
For my senior high school senior pictures, I wore his jersey. I was always so anxious to turn watch the Redskins game just to see number 21 out there. Earlier this year I was shot and spent multiple days in the hospital. My situation occurred in a different way when one stray bullet of thirty-two fired struck me in the stomach. I thought my injury was difficult, but seeing what Taylor went through helped me put my injury in perspective. A massive amount of blood was lost due to the gunshot wound to his femoral artery in his upper thigh. Then he fell into a coma and he later couldn’t recover, though he showed signs of improvement. I was truly fortunate to survive my injury, but it breaks my heart not to see my idol pull through.
I had faith that this strong man was going to survive heading to sleep Monday night but there was still something in me that didn’t feel right. I was startled early Tuesday morning to know that the man touched me passed away.
I couldn’t stop myself from showing emotion knowing that this man was displaying progress in changing his life off the field for the better. I was proud not to hear Taylor’s name mentioned in any negative context for the past year and a half. The Hurricane nation was accustomed to hearing Taylor’s name associated with character issues and controversy, but since he has had his daughter, family and friends close to Taylor have said he matured immensely.
His maturity was shown drastically on and off the field. Taylor proved what type of player he had become when for he already had a career-high five interceptions in nine games before injuring his knee this season. He was on pace to appear in his second consecutive Pro Bowl.
But now it is all gone and it is completely shocking.
We will no longer see the bone-crushing hits on Sundays and intense attitude he brings to the game. In his finest season in his career, his life was taken. The Hurricane community will never forget the man who I found to my idol.
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.