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Remembering Taylor, Pata

I was at the funeral yesterday, among the flock of reporters sitting in the upper level of FIU's Pharmed Arena to see the world pay its last respects to Sean Taylor. I sat through the service, saw the images up on the projection screens and sucked in the deep level of sadness that place was emmiting.

I'm not much for shedding tears. But listening to Sean's family and friends talk about him made my eyes swell up. I had to walk out right after his girlfriend's sister delivered her speech, thanking Taylor for loving her sister the way he did and for giving the family the most precious gift in the world -- their 18-month old daughter.

Yesterday, was a tough day for me, but nowhere near as tough as it was for the people who really knew Sean. I didn't know Sean Taylor the way I got to know many other local high school athletes. He was about a year before my time as the high school writer for this paper. But over the years, I got know his family. His cousins Emory Williams and Anthony Leon were very good high school football players in their own right at Gulliver Prep. His father, Pete Taylor, was still very much a supporter of Gulliver even after Sean left. I got to know them all at Gulliver and even better the day Taylor was drafted by the Redskins. I was there the moment his name was called and his family rejoiced. Seeing them go through some unbelievable anguish was heart-wrenching.

The courage Pete showed everytime he dealt was the media was amazing to me. How could a man who lost his son be so strong? How could answer each and every question thrown his way? The truth was, Pete Taylor really wasn't OK. Pete Taylor was dying inside everytime he had to talk about Sean. When I drove down his house last Thursday, I sent him a text message to let him know I was on my way. I wanted him to know among with the throng of media who were parked on his neighbors lawn, hoping to pick at the one scab he wanted left alone, he had a friend. When he came out and spoke, I shook his hand and told him he was doing a great job. He spoke, then vanished into his house behind police. About 15 minutes later, he came out and gave ESPN and The Miami Herald 10 more minutes of his time. He didn't have to. But he did because of how much he loved Sean, because of how much he wanted his son to be remembered not for those run-ins with the law but for the good kid he raised. When I left his home, he sent me a text message: "I'm trying to do my best. I'm grateful for everything. U take care and may god continue to bless u."

Pete Taylor didn't need to do any of that. But that's the type of person he is. The type of father he wanted to be for Sean and the type of person he hoped Sean would become. As a former wrestler at Southridge High, he knew the strength of sports and how it kept young men on the straight and narrow. He will never say this publicly, but he was always worried about Sean. His family and close friends will tell you so. It was natural. As a police chief in Florida City and a guy who grew up near Goulds, Pete saw many young lives go awry. He always worried Sean might befriend the wrong people and it might come back to haunt him.

Sean Taylor grew up in two houses -- the stern, disciplined one his father the police chief had and the little less stern his mother had. There were different elements in and around both homes, one was a little further away from trouble than the other. Sean, I've been told, embraced both environments. Pete, the police chief, always warned his son to stay clear of the shady elements where his mother lived. And for the most part he did. From what I've been told, he basically shut that part out of his life after his daughter was born. He became more deeply connected with his NFL bretheren and the guys he met at the Pro Bowl and spent more and more time with his family and young child. The problem was those bad elements already knew where he lived and knew he wasn't home much. According to investigators, one of the four men arrested for this crime admitted to being at Taylor's home for a birthday party this summer.

Pete Taylor told me he found out his son's house had been broken into a week before Sean Taylor came home. Pete told me he warned Sean on Thanksgiving, the last time they spoke, not to come home. He told him if he did, to let him know when he was coming. "I would have made sure the place was secure if I knew he was coming," Pete Taylor told me. "But I didn't know he was coming back." Pete found out his son was home after he had been shot in the leg. Sean Taylor died a day later. The four men under arrest for it claim they didn't know anyone was going to be home. The sad part is, had Sean known it was going to be his last moment on earth, he likely would have obliged and handed over some money to these young burglars. It was always Taylor's nature according to his uncle Anthony Leon to help those less fortunate around him. But now, Sean Taylor is gone. The young 24-year old who was starting to grow up and be the dependable father, the loving boyfriend, the big brother and wonderful son is gone. And it is a tragedy. Nothing else. Sean Taylor was simply the victim here and nothing else.

Taylor's family will survive this misery. His daughter and longtime will be financially stable, well taken care of by a wealthy family. But they'll never be able to replace his smile, his love, his hugs, his personality.

Yesterday, I kept thinking about Bryan Pata and his family and how different the situation is for them. Taylor's family has the knowledge that his killers have already been arrested. It's been 13 months for the Pata family and there are still no answers. I can't imagine the pain they are feeling. All I will continue to do is hope justice is served quickly, that Bryan Pata can rest in peace the way Sean Taylor is today.

Comments

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Well said. Pete Taylor has been a very positive figure through all of this. I hope people really digest and heed his words. If we all did, there would be less violence and more love in the world.

And I echo your sentiments about Bryan Pata's family. Must be so tough.

our prayers for both families.

It's sad to see these two young men die so early with so much life ahead of them, but this is what society has come to today. R.I.P. BP ST U

Manny once again i totally agree with you,
Pete Taylor is a great and a very unique man. I also thought that coach Shannon
spoke very well at the service...Sean will always be remembered also as a great man.
I was very impressed with the intensity his former teamates played yesterday in his honnour...Lewis, reed, willis and Wilfork played with their heart and soul on monday night just like Sean would have done.

Thanks Manny...

Why wasn't the service at BankUnited Center?

I would like to see all the members of the media issue an aplogy for smearing Sean's name!

I disagree with you on one thing even though it is a legal term, and that is the "Sean Taylor was simply the victim here and nothing else" comment. Reason being, and not to play semantics here, but to me a victim is someone who doesn't act. Despite his untimely demise, Sean Taylor is the complete antithesis of a victim, Sean Taylor was and is a HERO. If not for his actions who knows what we'll be talking about today. R.I.P. Sean Taylor, Your Presence In Life And On The Gridiron Will Be Missed, But Definitely Not Forgotten.

very good job manny, just a footnote sean didnt really hangout with the (other element) as many try 2 say. sean was really a quiet person who was extremely shy. whats crazy is how the media tried 2 portrary him as a thug was so crazy. what would b the reason he needed or wanted 2 b a thug. dude went 2 gulliver prep & UM. how many thugs can u find with that combo

Great stuff, Manny. You're proof that among journalists, you don't need to be a complete a$$hole to get the inside scoop.

Keep up the great work.

Yep manny good stuff. That guy Pedro sounds like the Kinda dad I wanna be.

Why wasn't the service at BankUnited Center?

Posted by: Big John | December 04, 2007 at 06:30 PM BUC booked

http://img125.imageshack.us/img125/1046/stnc3.png
26 clutches Jackie Taylor

http://www.legacy.com/SunSentinel/GB/GuestbookView.aspx?PersonId=98695559
26's death has elicited 4,000+ messages on legacy.com ... OUTPOURING

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/orl-bianchi0407dec04,0,6485702.column
orlandosentinel's mike bianchi (fu alum): "Another young black man had lost his life for no good reason. It doesn't just happen in Miami, it happens in Micanopy. It doesn't just happen in Detroit, it happens in Des Moines. It happens everywhere from South Florida to North Dakota, from Peoria to Pahokee, from Oshkosh to Orlando." ABOUT-FACE

ironically, oj simpson aka the butcher of brentwood attended 26's funeral ...

Manny I went to see Pete last Tuesday and even though he had just lost his son he joked with me about the game the Steelers had played against the Steelers which i had attended in Pittsburgh. I only met Sean twice and each time he was humble but I have been around Pete very much the past three years and I can't imagine the pain he is going through. Pete is a very special man and I know God will continue to bless him and his family.

Manny this is the second member of the Taylor/Leon family they had to bury this year. Last March Louis Leon was murdered and the case has not been solved. He was 25 years old!

http://images31.fotki.com/v1051/photos/1/169156/5662148/FIUvsUNT030-vi.jpg?1196573784
if florida international defeats a division 1 bottom feeder ... and no one is there to see it ... does it make a sound?

that should read the game the Steelers played against the Dolphins

why is Lsu & ohio state worthier than vatech, oklahoma, usc? opinion decides champion ... ABSURD

Thanks Manny...
You are a great reporter and someone who really cares about the U and it shows. This whole situation has been a tragedy and I hope the killers are "ALL" brought to justice. My heart goes out to all the family and friends of Sean. To see the players around the league show their respects to Sean was good to see. The U players from around the NFL pulled together to support Sean's family. I watched Ray Lewis give a speech about Sean to Ed Reed and Willis McGahee on Monday night football that was very emotional. Ray is a great leader and they should have won that game but got screwed by the refs. RIP Sean.....

(wtkr.com) Tickets to see Virginia Tech play Kansas in the Orange Bowl may be tough to come by. Tech said yesterday it sold 12,000 of its 17,500 tickets for the January 3rd game in Miami.

(CBS) Maggie Rodriguez (UM alumnae) will join Harry Smith and Julie Chen as co-anchor of The Early Show.

http://www.miamiherald.com/614/story/332375.html
herald's barry jackson: "We hear Wayne Huizenga has donated $1 million to the UM football program to pay for scholarships and $1 million to the baseball program to help fund renovations to Mark Light Field." xoxoxoxo

A marginal school

Posted by: Tad Foote | November 30, 2007 at 10:27 PM
http://chronicle.com/subscribe/login?url=http://chronicle.com/daily/2007/12/851n.htm
MOMENTUM: University of Miami's $1B campaign. as of oct 31, $1.354 BILLION had been raised. marginal? RAREFIED

Thanks Manny keep up the good work!

Any updates on the Pata case? It really a shame they haven't been able to get any justice.

It's nice to see the enormous outpouring of emotion and praise for Sean Taylor. I just wish for UM's sake it was covered by the Herald and others on the front page or otherwise in section 1/A of the papers rather than on the lead everyday of the sports page. It's distaserous to the UM program. His daeth is totally unrelated to UM, other than he starred there. His pop warner, high school and Redskins association is just as relevant to his tragic and untimely death as his association with UM. I'm sure the last thing Sean Taylor would want is to have his death be a negative to his alma mater. The impact on potential recruits I am afraid will be significant, particularly as a result of the continued relationship of the stories on the sports pages and the focus on his playing days at UM.

QAM low-balls the GREAT Neil Rogers ... a parting seems inevitable. IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES?

geldie returns to QAM?

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and a former teammate were charged with battery Wednesday for allegedly hitting a restaurant worker with a sandwich and cups. Cunningham and former Gators linebacker Jon Demps were being held without bond ...

http://gximg.ny.publicus.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/bilde?Site=GS&Date=20071205&Category=BREAKING&ArtNo=71205018&Ref=AR&MaxW=230&border=0
crime in gainesville? look no further than their out-of-control football team ... REAL THUG U

http://dolphinsindepth.blogspot.com/2007/12/live-chat-today-wed-at-2-pm.html
herald's armando salguero: "Once again last month, for the third consecutive month, Dolphins In Depth was the most popular sports blog at The Miami Herald." FALSE

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/umiami/2007/10/live-qa-starts-.html#comment-84892886
Q: hey manny navarro, how did your blog do in september? Posted by: green | October 02, 2007 at 08:35 PM
A: No. 2 on the Miami Herald site behind only Dave Barry.

Posted by: Manny Navarro | October 02, 2007 at 09:20 PM get your facts straight, mr. salguero

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/umiami/2007/11/tuesday-practic.html#comment-89068400
hey manny navarro, how'd your blog do in october?

Posted by: green | November 06, 2007 at 07:02 PM

No. 2 on the herald website, tied with Dolphins In Depth. We had 120,000 hits. Dave Barry is our usual No. 1.

Posted by: Manny | November 06, 2007 at 07:15 PM
get your facts straight, mr. salguero

http://tedhendricks.com/07Winner.htm
uva's Chris Long won the prestigious 2007 Ted Hendricks Award -- named after the former Hurricane GREAT

Great article about the 'U' fraternity

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news;_ylt=As5vejt1A63nB3npvhBneBc5nYcB?slug=ms-32questions120507&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

Manny,

Where's the article many of us have been asking you to do? C'mon, do it!

Taylor's dad gave a speech worthy of JesseJAcksona few days ago when he said that our"society should do more for people like these" (referring to the killers) "to prevent things like these from happening". Sorry Pedro, but this was black on black hispanic onblack minority on minority crime to its fullest! Soicety DOES do more: There are jobs out there to have, schools to attend. This young thug could go to h.s, and then to 4 yrs of college at almost any state U for FREEEE!simply b/c he is a minority. So don't blame society (aka white man) for this. Society let OJ Simpson off after he decapitated 2 people and then he was at ST's funeral. How ironic.

The presence of all of those current and former UM players was incredible. I don't believ any other school would have had this type of turn out for a player that was only 4 yrs into his career, adn only layed 3 years at the school. He was beloved as are all of the U players. God bless the U.

Hey manny cmon buddy hit us off with an in depth recruiting blog on what we should expect for the 14th and whos really going to commit......and what about this kid nick perry man sounds liek a beast

A quick Heisman note:

I'm a die-hard Cane and I hate UF, but Canes fans can't quibble if the Heisman goes to Tebow. We were clamoring for McGahee or Dorsey to get it in '02. Consider this: That year, McGahee ran for 28 TDs. Dorsey threw for 3369 yards, 28 TDs, and 12 INTs. This year, Tebow has run for 22 TDs and thrown for 3132 yards and 29 TDs -- with only 6 INTs. Think about that for a minute. It's unreal. Going by numbers only, he's as good a passer as Dorsey and a better runner than most Division I starting RBs. And UF played a pretty tough schedule this year: LSU, Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky, UGA, S. Carolina, and FSU (I know they had cream puffs in their non-con schedule, but you gotta respect the SEC).

This is a no-brainer. It hurts to say it, but Tebow should win.

Nice article. There is a lot of good that comes out of the UM. Sean Taylor is a perfect example. I hope that the Canes recruits see through any of these other college recruiters who bad mouth the U. The outpouring for Sean and the unity at the University of Miami will hopefully signal to these kids that belonging to something that matters is a very good thing. As always, its just so very sad that we had to lose a favorite son to bring this point home.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=o-prk3cgARA

This is what it is to be a Hurricane...True MotherF*ing Canes, Man!

Manny, can you provide an update on what you are hearing on these Butch rumors. Disgusting if true

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