Ive had a lot of thoughts rambling around in my head this summer, thoughts Ive wanted to share with you all: thoughts of how great it is to cast off all of your cares, and just be kid-like again; thoughts of how amazing the College World Series was, and how I can't wait to go to Omaha; and most recently I was remembering my trip up Kilimanjaro, and how I wish that each and every person could have an experience that moving, to benefit someone else (www.KevinTurnerFoundation.org).
But yesterday something happened to make me put all of those thoughts in real perspective. I took literal stock of how blessed I am to even get another day on this earth.
I was preparing for a show on SiriusXM College Sports Nation. I had just left an amazing, spirit-filled church service at Free Chapel in Gainesville. The message was on being under the influence of Jesus, and how we should be the Christians that show love, always.
I decided to stop to grab a burger. I saddled up next to the bar to wait on my food and pulled out my phone to start prepping for my solo show that evening. I pulled up BleacherReport.com and the first news that popped up was the passing of Philip Lutzenkirchen, a fan-favorite at Auburn. He played tight-end and H-back and was best known for his touchdown to seal the biggest comeback in Iron Bowl history in 2010. I gasped and just said: "oh no," over and over again. The crash also claimed the life of Ian Davis. A baseball player with dreams of playing for the Georgia Bulldogs. He didn't make the team, but remained close with the players and the coaches. The Bulldog faithful are also mourning a loss today.
It didn't seem real.
Philip was so young (only 23), so full of life, ridiculously unselfish, and a teammate in every sense of the word.
He was an Auburn man.
If you didnt have the good fortune to see him play, he was clutch, he was a leader, a blocker, a visionary (on and off the field), a giver and a lover. My best friend Kristen Ledlow recounted a conversation they had not even a month ago. They were very close friends. Phillp said to her, "you know, I realize that the only way to influence people that aren't on the right path is love. You can't brow-beat them. You can't criticize them. You can only love them. If they see love in me, then hopefully they will want to change. My GOD is love. That's what I want to be."
What a beautiful legacy to leave.
The times I interviewed him I remembered being taken with his command. He was a natural-born leader, but so down to earth, and affable at the same time. He was the kind of person you are just magnetically drawn to. Apparently others felt the same way because he was a fan-favorite at Auburn. Everyone seems to have a story of the great Philip Lutzenkirchen.
Last night as I was on the air I wanted to honor his memory; I wanted his legacy to resonate with those outside the Auburn and SEC family. I asked people: "who was the Philip of your school? Who was the player, for you, that was gone way too soon? And how does that player's life, and the way they lived, inspire you in your everyday walk?"
Calls came in from everywhere: Texas, Iowa, Georgia, Florida and Ohio! Apparently Phillip's remarkable life struck a chord with people across this great country. As much as we mourned last night, I also wanted to inspire, as Philip did his entire life. I know he would want his life to be a beacon and an example to others. So I encouraged others to love in the way Philip, and their heroes, loved. I encouraged them to be world-changers, and people that genuinely cared about others.
Today as I was scanning twitter and clicked on Philip's twitter bio, I found this quote (below). It seems he had it figured out all along.
We know where you are; you are doing the "Lutzie" in heaven, perhaps you are even teaching those moves to GOD right now. And maybe, just maybe, you've already found the verdant-green football field with the goal posts made of pure gold. Until we see you again just know we are all down here loving, living, laughing, and genuinely taking care of one another in your memory.
RIP Philip, you will be sorely missed you good, good man.