August 23rd, 2017 at 12:49 PM ^

But I've received what must be the "second-worst." 

It's disorienting. Nothing makes sense; words seem to hang in space. Fear is not just all-consuming; it's mocking.

I can imagine what Evan's mother and father went through that night, and in the days after. I can imagine it, because I came that close. I wouldn't wish it on anyone; literally, no one.


August 23rd, 2017 at 12:51 PM ^

Very emotional, especially having a son of my own now. I couldn't even read it through fully, had to skim some parts to keep from becoming emotional. 

Good, but very heart wrenching as the OP suggested. There's even a Coach Harbaugh reference in there.


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:35 PM ^

I did the same when I read this earlier today... my kids are nowhere near this one's age, but I couldn't bear to read it through.  I started skimming once I got to the football game.  I just about lost it in the office when I got to the "he's gone" part.  I think I read that five times over it hit so hard.

The worst part of this though was that the injury wasn't head-related.  I had a symptomless mono like this kid had several years ago, with only a sore throat leading me to a walk-in clinic to get diagnosed.  I could have very easily ruptured it playing rec soccer or something had I ignored it like he did.

uncle leo

August 23rd, 2017 at 1:09 PM ^

Never have children, so I don't fully understand the bond between parent and son/daughter.

But when her mom said that night, from 600 miles away, "I have a funny feeling," that's downright scary.


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:10 PM ^

What a gutting read. I can't even imagine.

I'm afraid that I'll be like Evan's mother here if I let any of my boys play, pacing somewhere in fear until the game is over. That's not even directly related to this story—it's hard to blame football for Evan's death, which was a simple, horrible tragedy—or even necessarily that rational, but simply because that specter hangs out there, and that's my boy out there, dammit. And I love this game passionately, and miss playing terribly, and got so much from it. 

I probably won't be able to stop thinking about this story for days.

uncle leo

August 23rd, 2017 at 1:25 PM ^

With this article and the link between football and his death.

Yes, he had a condition that for some reason was never discovered, and it could have affected him later in life. But I just have a hard time thinking that football has NOTHING to with how he died. The article doesn't describe where exactly he got hit, but I can only assume it was in the chest/lower body area. I would think a violent collision, with his condition, AND the fact he was dealing with mono was the combination that took him. 

I really do struggle with it. My gut honestly tells me that if he was playing basketball or baseball, and stayed away from football, he would still be alive. You don't get those direct, brutal collisions. 

Obviously, I don't blame him one bit for playing. He loved the game. I just can't get away from the fact that football has SOMETHING to do with this.


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:39 PM ^

All that you say is fair, and if what I wrote contradicts that, I didn't mean it to. As I understand the article, he was sick, which caused his spleen to be enlarged and vulnerable. Likely, one of those hits in the game ruptured it. That could have happened in baseball or basketball or hockey or goofing around with friends, but it did happen on the football field, and but for that rupture, he'd still be here.

Maybe what I should have said was that this isn't the sort of thing I should rationally fear if my boys play football. The odds of them having an enlarged and vulnerable spleen due to mono and playing in a football game are pretty low. I only meant that I have enough other fears about football now that I'll probably still be like Evan's mom, pacing throughout the game, regardless of whether that's rational.

uncle leo

August 23rd, 2017 at 1:47 PM ^

Is not really counter to your thoughts at all.

This was just the first mention of the cause-effect with football and his death, and I thought I would throw in my two cents.

People can live with enlarged spleens. They can get them removed, be treated, etc... I really think if he got through his bout with mono and just had that to deal with, his chances of being alive today are much greater, in my opinion. I understand I am no doctor, but it just feels logical. You simply do not take direct contact hits to your body nearly as much in baseball, which was the other sport he could have played in college.


August 23rd, 2017 at 4:48 PM ^

Just a small point of clarification, the splenomegaly with mono is transient and would've likely resolved along with the inciting EBV infection.  It almost certainly wasn't there during his sports physical and it isn't anything anyone would ever check for without accompanying symptoms.  There really wasn't anything that he or his parents could've possibly done differently. I suspect sitting out a game due to feeling tired and a bit under the weather would've been antithetical to his hard working personality that was probably responsible for his success in life.

All in all, that was a well written article that really drives home the point of how tenuous and precious life is. 


August 23rd, 2017 at 5:04 PM ^

Thanks for this. I'd actually forgotten the detail of his physical and the probing of his stomach until you mentioned this. This extra context makes the story even more heart-wrenching. Because you're right: I can't see what anyone could have done differently here.


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:14 PM ^

longtime lurker, first time poster. i made a new account to comment on this.

i don't know why i keep lingering on this article but it made me very emotional. kind of like the longform austin hatch article from a while back. really tugged at the heart strings and made me reflect on my own life as well. not a father myself but it's worth it to think about your place in this world and the impact that you have on those both immediately and far beyond your present setting.

thank you for sharing.


August 23rd, 2017 at 1:17 PM ^

what it would be like to lose a child. When your kid is playing a sport you hang on every play and just want the best for them and hope they never get injured.  It can be both fun and tough to watch them play.

If I lost my child I don't know if I could carry on, I would probably be a blog of goo for a long time...

Tough read but well worth it.

Whole Milk

August 23rd, 2017 at 1:30 PM ^

Heart wrenching story no matter how the information is presented, but kudos to the writer for touching on the raw emotions that the story presents, and without knowing this boy, his family, or their story, the article makes us feel the closeness and wonderful attributes of that family and community. 


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:10 PM ^

He was two years older than me when he came in from NJ to John Belein's Player Development basketball camp in the summer of 2013. I was on his team. You will not meet a nicer kid than he was. He took me under his wing at the camp and we had a blast together that week. We remained friends and kept in touch on social media for a few years following that summer and I was shocked when I heard the news about him. I will always remember Evan.


August 23rd, 2017 at 2:50 PM ^

Can't pretend to know how that must feel but it's always a very real fear that I have as a parent of 4 kids.  It's terrible that it's these sad tragedies that are reminders to cherish what you have, love those you're blessed to have in your life and to just be decent to other people.

Cranky Dave

August 23rd, 2017 at 3:12 PM ^

My Dad at 19 then my first wife 9 years ago. But losing a child...I don't know if I could make it after that. I'd probably never let my remaining daughter out of my sight.


August 23rd, 2017 at 3:21 PM ^

A freshman died during summer conditioning in the weight room and he wasn't doing anything overly strenuous. It's just one of those freak things.

I don't remember that stuff happening when I grew up playing football but it probably did. It's so sad for the family and community.

Bobby Thomson

August 23rd, 2017 at 3:21 PM ^

my 4 year old walked into a street with a 45 mile per hour speed limit a few weeks ago. thankfully the alert driver stopped and he was not hurt. I still shudder when I think about him. I can't imagine the devestation of having a child pass away, and I have no idea how i would find peace.


August 23rd, 2017 at 4:23 PM ^

As a guy who has lost a child (not sports related) and watched his second child play hockey through high school, I can tell you I know full well what that young mans mom was feeling before and during each game.  Pure fear.

Any young life lost is tragic whether on a sports field, in a car or due to profound illness.  I will go forward thinking of this young man as having positively affected many dozens of people in his far too few years BECAUSE he played football.  

All those who got to know him will have unfillable voids, and at the same time have the special memories they made with a fine young man.

Best wishes to his parents and those who loved him.




August 23rd, 2017 at 4:52 PM ^

Wow, that's awful.

Think about this: He was applying to Michigan. Looks like he would have gotten in. He'd be entering his sophomore year.

Kid was a writer. A sports fan. He'd be football-mad, and he'd hear about Mgoblog.

There's a good chance that guy would be a poster hear. He'd have 6000 points or something. Might even try writing a diary to exercise his writing skills. 

And he's gone.

Perkis-Size Me

August 23rd, 2017 at 10:43 PM ^

A grim reminder once again about how to always keep perspective.

We think we're miserable after losing to OSU on a bad call? That could happen 100 more times for the next 100 straight years and the combined misery would never come even remotely close to the grief this family has endured. My wife and I don't have children yet, but reading that story just made me feel like I was there with them when everything happened. The father not letting go of his son for almost an hour just tore me apart. No parent should ever have to bury their child.

I hope they're able to one day find peace in everything that's happened.

UM Griff

August 23rd, 2017 at 11:14 PM ^

Find a small measure of comfort knowing his life has meant so much to so many people.

My sister's fiancé died of acute leukemia within a month of diagnosis. It is so awful to see a young person filled with vitality suddenly gone, and there are no answers to the questions of "why did this happen?".