Tyler Trent Has Passed And The World Is Darker For It
We’ve lost Tyler Trent, pillar of the Purdue community. Cancer has taken him from us. He was 20 years old.
Tyler was a gentleman, a Boilermaker, a fighter and an inspiration. He refused to let his cancer define him and he remained effusive in his positive outlook while also being a realist. And he did it all while being a tremendous ambassador for Purdue athletics, the Purdue Exponent and Boilermakers in general.
When you get bad news, you can tackle it in a couple of ways. One way is to feel sorry for yourself, to let it defeat you, to wonder why and to question everything. And when the news is especially dark, nobody can really blame someone who does this.
The other way, though, when hit with bad news is to attack the bad news back. A willingness to fight, a refusal to be defined by a bad hand in life, and an outlook being more positive than those around you can be inspiring. It can inspire yourself because you will see that you can still enjoy what time you have with us. And it can and does inspire those around you, because seeing someone going through the worst kinds of challenges, illness, pain and setbacks and still keeping a positive disposition is impactful. It reminds the rest of us that no matter what we face, no matter how bad things seem, there are others facing things just as bad if not worse – and they’re doing it with tremendous grace.
That was Tyler Trent.
We met Tyler the way so many current friendships blossom, through the magic of Twitter. Tyler grew up an IU fan but if you ever watched a Purdue game with him, you know his transformation to the black and gold was utterly complete. It’s where the smart guys usually wind up, after all.
When he appeared on our podcast, he talked about feeling “blessed” with the encouragement he had been receiving. As a cynical jerk, I often think that if I had been afflicted with cancer as Tyler had been that I would be saying I was anything but blessed. But that’s why Tyler was a great guy. He had perspective, humility, faith and kindness. He was all things the rest of us should strive to be. How he became this model of a man so early in his life is hard to say, but it likely had a lot to do with his tremendous family.
Tyler entered his second year at Purdue this fall, having been forced into a wheelchair by cancer’s effects. We now will remember Tyler as a man who lived a lot in his short time with us and who, in many facets, showed us the way. Whether it was in how to face adversity or how to support your program or how to do your job on press row, Tyler did it all with aplomb. I’ve told the story before, but I covered the 2018 Men’s Basketball Big Ten Tournament in NYC and was alongside Tyler in press row for the championship game. After it ended, we had to hightail it to the press room and it was me scrambling to keep up with Tyler (I am not exaggerating one bit), who was navigating through the crowds of MSG….on a crutch….with an artificial hip.
Tyler’s story went national this fall when he was featured on ESPN’s College GameDay program. His story clearly touched everyone involved at ESPN and was then seen moving others’ emotions in the national media and beyond, from Scott Van Pelt to Robin Roberts to Vice President and former Indiana governor Mike Pence.
We’ll be thinking about ways we can continue to honor and remember our friend Tyler. (An easy way you can make a difference is to donate to the endowment set up in his honor.) In saying “our friend,” we feel both lucky that we were fortunate enough to get to know him and also like we got away with something. Getting to know a guy this inspirational is fulfilling in a way that’s hard to put into words. It’s equally hard to cope with the idea that he is no longer part of the fabric of our day-to-day Purdue fandom or that we will not see him at future events, tailgates, tournaments or bowl games. Our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Fare thee well, Tyler. Rest easy and, as always, choo-choo, brother.