“This is bigger than football. This is family. It’s a sad situation to go through, ” says Louisiana Tech defensive back BeeJay Williamson.
Romans 12:10 says love one another with brotherly affection. Each member of Louisiana Tech’s football team opened their hearts, letting in two people they’ve never met before.
“Couldn’t imagine as a father what his parents are going through, ” says Louisiana Tech head football coach Sonny Cumbie. “And, as a sibling with an older and younger brother, being of that age. Just the difficulties and really how their world had been broken.”
“Just hearing that news, I wanted to be a part of something, ” says Louisiana Tech defensive back and Neville High School alum, Jaiden Cole.
The lives of over 100 men intersected with Bryan and Ella Bresee. Bryan is a defensive tackle for Clemson. He and his family were forced to experience something no one should endure. 15-year old Ella has been fighting an aggressive form of brain cancer.
“We read that he left after his game versus Furman, to go back home and be with his family, and to be with Ella, ” Cumbie continues. “That’s when it kind of got on our radar what was going on.”
“We saw it on social media, and a bunch of players were talking about it, ” says Cole. “We were all wondering if he was going to play or not. That was heavy news for everybody.”
After a year long battle, 15-year old Ella passed away on September 15.
Someone losing a family member, especially that close to the team, that close to him, you really don’t want to hear that, that close to a game – or anytime in your life, ” says Cole. “So, that was just hard to hear.”
“Just praying for them, ” says Williamson. “Just hope everyone wraps their arms around them, and just make sure he’s alright.”
The greatest thing we can do is just say that, ‘We’re here for you. We love you. We’re sending prayers your way,'” says Cumbie. “And, we wanted to wrap our arms around you, whether it be physically or whether it be through a note.”
Every single Bulldog player did choose to send a message to Bryan Bresee and his family.
“Our punter Patrick Rea, his sister passed away when he was younger, from a similar type of brain cancer, ” says Cumbie. “So just shared that with them. Those are always just sobering reminders of the frailty of our life. And, so, ‘Don’t feel obligated to write the letter. But, they’re going to be here if you wanted to send a note to Bryan, and we’ll get it to him.”
Following Louisiana Tech’s recent game with Clemson, Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney brought out a special box.
“I got a letter from the entire team, ” says Swinney. “The entire team took the time to write Bryan and his family a letter. I really appreciate their thoughtfulness, their kindness, and sharing in the pain with the Bresee families.”
“You just try to place yourself in their shoes, ” says Cumbie. “And, try to place yourself in what they might be going through. I’ve never experienced that. I don’t know.”
I just basically told him, ‘I’m here for you, if you need me. Even if you don’t know me. I just told him I was praying for him for sure, ” Williamson says.
“Writing a letter to someone that just lost someone that close, you have have to be specific with words, ” says Cole. “Sometimes you hear the same stuff over and over again from people. You just want them to know that they care, and you’re thinking about them.”
“There’s no words. There’s no words that we can say that can take away the hurt, and the hearbrokeness that his family has. But, at least we can try to extend the gap, and do our part to try to encourage and say, ‘Hey, we’re here for you guys, ‘” says Cumbie.