If there be any truer measure of a man than by what he does, it must be by what he gives. – Robert South
Tyler Trent is the spirit of Purdue.
I chose to use the present tense rather than the past because even though Tyler’s fight against bone cancer is finished, it is his spirit that will carry on. Just 15 months ago we were learning who this young man was. It was Mike Carmin who found him and his friend Josh Seals camped out next to Ross-Ade Stadium the night before Purdue hosted Michigan. Carmin told his story that first night, and it happened because he had decided to go past the stadium on a lark after covering a high school game.
Coach Brohm also stopped by that evening, and even though Tyler was in the middle of his second cancer fight, his story took off from there. In 15 months he would participate in the Iowa Wave, work for the Exponent covering Purdue’s NCAA Tournament run, continue his fight against cancer, and inspire a nation. When Purdue stunned Ohio State in October it was Tyler’s night. He nearly did not make it to that game, but I am convinced that the energy of that night lifted him these last two and a half months. It sustained him past what his doctors thought. Unfortunately, cancer sucks. Hard. Tyler fought, but now his fight is over.
In the last 15 months the nation has gotten to know Tyler. What amazed me throughout was that it was never about his own fight. When Tyler would tweet it would rarely be about his condition. He only gave updates when they were major, like when he was forced to withdraw from school. Instead, he wrote about about what he could do for others. Here was a young man that knew his time was limited, but he spent every second doing what he could for others. He inspired others. He encouraged others. He strengthened them. His upcoming book is about pulling off an upset of cancer even though it will not physically benefit him. He spoke of how he was encouraged that samples of his tumor might lead to a cure someday, ignoring that meant there was no cure yet for him.
I was always in awe of his humility and his desire to serve.
Mark 10:45 says: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is the example we are called to follow, and Tyler knew what it meant to serve. Even though his body was failing him, his final tweet from two days ago was about that service:
Thank you to everyone that has purchased my book. I’m humbled you have joined the movement to UPSET CANCER. You being #tylerstrong gives me joy. Once you purchase the book, tag me & I will do my best to like your post & retweet as a thank you. https://t.co/xEKOvBBhQ1 pic.twitter.com/8LafN4BWez— Tyler Trent (@theTylerTrent) December 29, 2018
As a Purdue family, we are deeply honored to have had Tyler. He did so much for so many, and the Purdue family was always there to provide him a boost. This fall his story’s impact reached further than Boiler nation. It was more than his love of football or Purdue. It was about his humble service and desire to do all he could before his time was up. He has done far more in his 20 short years than I have done in my near 40, but in that, he has encouraged me to do more. I know I am not alone in that, either.
I know Tyler’s spirit will carry on far beyond his physical passing. It is now up to us to fight, because his fight is finished and he can finally rest.
God Bless you, Tyler.