"I was shocked. I was heartbroken. Losing my best friend. I felt like everything changed. I didn't think anything would ever be the same"
Last year, Tysean White played through grief--losing his mother Quiana White to a battle with lupus at the age of 33. This year, he turned that pain into a plan. Playing every down with a purprose, taking every exam with a goal. White knows what he wants to accomplish--and what he needs to do--to make his mother proud.
"Everything she wanted me to do in the future I have to step up to the plate and accomplish that for her," said White. "Just to continue to do great things in school, get things done on the football field and hopefully play at the next level. She meant everything to me. She got me into Saints. Put me in the best schools growing up. She was my biggest fan on and off the field."
White moved in with his aunt Sherrell Tyler and his sophomore season flew by. He said everything around him felt dark. But this year as a junior, White instead finds motivation trying to live up to expectations he knows his mom would have for him and his coaches and teammates say they noticed the difference this off-season in Whites attitude both on and off the field.
"Going into this year I could see the mending in his heart," said Saints Head Coach Richard Sanchez. "You can see the different focus. The finishing of plays. The intensity. The want to in his eyes."
"For him to go through all the school work and everything here and just it's not easy with two parents, but to have none that's crazy," said linebacker Andrew Alves. "It's motivating and I'm glad to call him my friend."
This season White earned a starting position with the Saintsman, and football continues to drive the 6'2, 218 pound linebacker to want to move forward and dream big. He says he just wishes his mom could see how much he's grown up in the past year.
"I think she would be very proud," said White. "Most kids would just shut down and just give up on everything but I decided to come out here and work hard with my brothers so I can come out here and win a championship. Ever since I was 5 starting football, I would look into the stands and see her cheering me on. She was always there. Every game I still look into the stands and I don't see her. That's probably the hardest thing."