A Michigan community has been left heartbroken and stunned after one of their high school football players unexpectedly died on Friday after recently undergoing knee surgery.
Trevon Tyler, a 16-year-old junior at South Lyon East High School who played guard and tackle for Cougars, suffered a torn meniscus during an Oct. 4 football game, Detroit Free Press reports.
After suffering the season-ending injury, the 6’4″, 300-pound starting lineman underwent a routine knee surgery, which his head coach Joe Pesci said went successfully.
“He had surgery maybe three or 3½ weeks ago to have that fixed,” Pesci told the local outlet. “That surgery went really well. They fixed everything up. He had been doing physical therapy with our trainer at the school.”
However, things took a turn for the worst last week when Pesci said Tyler went back into follow-up surgery, where he suffered major complications.
“I guess he had to go back in, to get something cleaned up, a week ago last Monday,” he explained. “They said that went well. They took care of everything. Everybody went on break. He was in good spirits.”
“I guess, Thursday night, maybe late, he developed a blood clot,” Pesci continued. “And Friday morning, we were told he developed a blood clot, which led to a heart attack, and he passed away Friday morning. It’s somewhat mind-boggling that it could happen.”
The tragic news was confirmed in a GoFundMe page, which was set up by the football boosters on behalf of Tyler’s family to assist with the “unexpected expenses”. The description says that Tyler’s death was a result of a complication from his recent surgery.
“His community is heartbroken,” the page reads. “He wasn’t just a player respected by his coaches and teammates he was a friend and student loved by so many here at South Lyon East High School and in the South Lyon Community.”
“More importantly, he was a son, a brother and [a] loved family member,” the page continues. “He will be missed by his family, teammates, coaches, and everyone who was blessed to have known him.”
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Additional comments on the page from Tyler’s loved ones remembered the teen as a “very nice student and young man” with a “colorful smile and infectious positive attitude.”
“Trevon was one of my good friends who impacted many lives and never stopped caring for people,” wrote someone, while another coach of Tyler’s added, “Coaching Tre was a great joy in my life. He always had everyone laughing. I was looking forward to watching him grow up.”
“He was a great kid; I remember him always having a smile on his face,” added another person.
Following news of Tyler’s death, Pesci said the coaches at South Lyon East held a meeting with their players to help them cope with the sudden loss, which fell on Thanksgiving break.
Pesci told the Detroit Free Press that they invited the players to their locker room, where they could cry and grieve over Tyler’s tragic death, as well as share memories of the teen.
“We had about 20 guys there, six coaches and my athletic director,” Pesci explained to the outlet. “For about an hour we sat in the locker [room] and talked about the situation about Trevon.”
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“It was tough. The guys start coming in. All you want to do is hug each one of them and tell them that you love them,” he continued. “We hugged every kid on the way in, and then on the way out it was the same thing. You are still kind of numb and don’t know what to do. We just want to make sure we are there for our kids.”
Pesci also noted that the coaches made sure to emphasize to their athletes the importance of speaking to someone during this difficult time.
“We just expressed to our guys, ‘We are all hurting. You are going to be hurting for a while. The big thing is, don’t keep it in. Make sure as feelings start to build up, reach out to one of us, to a teammate, a parent, whatever. Just to get it out,'” he recalled.
In the wake of Tyler’s death, South Lyon East held a schoolwide whiteout on Monday. The Michigan community also showed their support for the late teen and his family by tying white ribbons around their trees, according to the GoFundMe page.
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As for the football team, Offensive Line Coach Chad Stuckey told the Detroit Free Press they plan on honoring Tyler in the offseason, as well as in the coming football seasons.
“We have a saying at East. It’s called ‘Be EAST’. We tell the kids, ‘Be Engaged, Be Accountable, Be Selfless and Be Tough,'” he explained to the outlet. “When we break a huddle, we chant, ‘We are?’ And everybody goes, ‘East!’ And then, ‘We will?’ … Our slogan for next year is going to be: ‘We are East! We will? Play for Tre!'”
“I think he could have played at the next level,” Stuckey continued of Tyler’s legacy. “He was an athletic kid, good feet. Hardworking kid.”
But it’s not just his performance on the field that Tyler will be remembered for.
“As a kid, just the nicest, most fun-loving, caring kid,” added Pesci. “Walked with a pretty big pep in his step. He always said hi to everybody. Everybody loved him. He was a little bit of a jokester. Had this big laugh. Always made you smile.”
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