Henry: Football, family bring healing
July 16, 2016 at 10:34 p.m.
His smile was infectious, matched only perhaps by his determination and fight on the field.
A competitor and a warrior, he had a knack for wiping the smile off the opposition's face, often thwarting or shutting down whatever or whoever stood in the way.
"That smile ... ," said Longview head coach John King. "I'll never forget that. He was so loyal and such a fighter and battled for his teammates every play until the end."
Teammates, coaches, the Lobo community gathered Saturday at Lobo Coliseum to remember and celebrate the life of Travian Clayborn, who just a few short months ago graduated from Longview High School, where his impact was felt and will forever be remembered.
Clayborn was killed in a car wreck on July 8 in Commerce. He was 18.
There were tears and laughs Saturday as teammates came together again, an all-too-short reunion.
Together, they mourned. Together, they laughed. Together, they'll endure the heartache that has been felt. Together, they'll hold on to the memories.
Together, they'll fight on once again.
Throughout the course of the 2016 football season, no matter who was speaking — an offensive lineman, a linebacker, a running back — they all pointed to what made their group tick.
The answer was the same each and every time:
'We're a family.'
'We play for the person beside us.'
'We've come together as one.'
Often times in this profession, you hear those words. Sometimes it's just talk.
That was not the case for this group.
Maybe undersized, maybe not the most talented and maybe not the best athlete, what they had was heart and one another and, as the successes of the season are measured, that was more than enough.
"There's commitment, loyalty, sacrifice, the hard work, the thrill of victory and accomplishment and the agony of defeat," King said. "It all goes together. It takes everyone together to do, to accomplish and to overcome those things.
"That's the unique thing about the game of football in how it relates to family and community, regardless of race, color or creed, it doesn't matter. Lobo Nation is what it is because of these players, these coaches and this community that rallies everyone together."
In uncertain and dark times, it is often said that sports has a way to help heal and to, even if for a brief moment, block out what is occurring.
But what it takes is family.
We're just blessed those two things — sports and family — go hand-in-hand, together.