WARSAW – For a day, fans of the Hoosiers, Irish, Tigers and Buckeyes all were Boilermakers. That was the power of Tyler Trent.
It’s been well chronicled in the past few weeks the words and actions Trent had offered in his fight against cancer, and what it’s meant to so many around the country. Trent lost his physical battle to osteosarcoma on New Year’s Day, just a couple days removed from his final public appearance. The world responded to his final chapter, and what good can come of something that’s honestly so awful.
Trent wasn’t a household name for much of this fall. That was, until Purdue defeated Ohio State in October in what many still consider to be college football’s biggest upset this season. During the broadcast, Trent’s fight with cancer was made public by ESPN and also through Purdue’s ancillary networks. Nearly everyone involved with Purdue’s football program will point to Trent’s presence at that game as their extra will to win.
The Boilers would go on to finish 6-6, with Trent in attendance for the Old Oaken Bucket win at Indiana and later checking off another box by getting down to the Music City Bowl for the Boilers’ game against Auburn. Indianapolis Colts team owner Jim Irsay even let the Trent family used his private plane to fly to the game, which was played last Friday in Nashville. Trent was visibly worn out from the cancer overrunning his body, but still mustered enough to be part of the coin flip before kickoff. He was given a hero’s ovation from both the Tigers and Boilermakers. Sadly, it was the last time he would be seen in public.
Trent had made good use of his sudden platform, writing a book called ‘The Upset’ which chronicled his journey to even make it to the Ohio State game and the hardships he had with his three fights with cancer. That book is a fundraiser directed to filter back into cancer research with the Jimmy V Foundation. He had advertised the book on his Twitter as recently as Saturday, even as he was nearing his final days with us.
The announcement of his passing Tuesday saw an immediate show of emotion and support, and not just from the obvious. Twitter had #tylerstrong as it’s No. 1 trending topic Tuesday night, and messages from the Chicago Cubs, Indiana football, Purdue football, Auburn football head coach Gus Malzahn, Purdue football head coach Jeff Brohm and basketball head coach Matt Painter, and even Indiana governor Eric Holcomb all shared thoughts and prayers. Even President Trump offered Trent a letter of encouragement earlier in 2018, stating he and First Lady Melania were moved by his fight and poise.
“@theTylerTrent was among the biggest, strongest & wisest people you could ever meet,” noted Holcomb. “He reminded us what being good is all about. I’m convinced Tyler was touched by our Lord & guided home every step of the way. Janet & I send our love to the Trent family & remain here for them.”
“Rest In Peace to our team captain and our hero!” Brohm said. “God has put Tyler on his team!! His courage, strength and spirit touched a nation and inspired us all!! We love you Tyler!”
Added Purdue quarterback David Blough, who became good friends with Trent, “Rest In Peace to my friend, my captain, my brother, my hero. You inspired us all by the way you lived. I love you, and I can’t wait to see you again. Forever #TylerStrong.”
ESPN television personality Scott Van Pelt left the SportsCenter broadcast last night with a chair for Trent, a promise he made in October that he could share a broadcast with him, and kept his promise as the broadcast faded to black with the empty chair and the Purdue football helmet on the desk.
What so many of us hate about cancer is what was so great about Trent’s fight. He stood in it’s wrath and he let the world know it wouldn’t beat him. We all know someone who has been through it. We all know someone who succumbed to it. We all know cancer sucks.
Some say cancer takes away. In Tyler Trent’s case, you can say it gave. He used cancer and he made an impact, one that so many can use as hope and strength. He did everything in his power to fight through the pain, to make good, and show that cancer can be beaten. It may have taken his body, but his spirit won.
Rest easy Tyler, you’ve earned it.