Eleven days after Washington State Cougars quarterback Tyler Hilinski ended his life, family, teammates and friends gathered yesterday in La Verne, California, to say their final goodbyes to the 21-year-old man who “brightened a room just by entering.”
Most of Hilinski’s teammates and coaches flew down Saturday morning on a charter flight out of Pullman to be there, sitting in the front section of the gym of Damien High School, which Tyler’s father and uncles attended. The coaches wore suits; the players wore matching gray jumpsuits that no doubt also were favored by their fallen QB.
Hopefully you’ll read each of the stories from the writers in attendance, but if you only read one, please make time to read Chuck Culpepper’s for the Washington Post. It’s a beautiful and moving account:
For this day, a gym normally reserved for cheers, reserved Saturday because of its size and because Hilinski’s father and uncles attended Damien, had gone reserved for an impossible, mournful human bafflement. The oldest of the three Hilinski brothers, Kelly, 23, a former quarterback at Weber State, had “spent the past weeks trying to comprehend what was truly incomprehensible,” he said. As he read words written by their mother, Kym, who sat nearby in front with their father, Mark, Kelly read, “In his short time on Earth, he was full of life,” and, “I may never know why Tyler left us,” and, at one point, “Our skies aren’t as bright.”
“The only thing that makes sense to us is that Tyler was not well,” spoke an aunt and godmother, Christine Hilinski, who reasoned that choice must have eluded her nephew and said: “He wasn’t able to make the choice. He never would have deliberately hurt us,” with a worthy cry beginning at “deliberately.”
Cougfan.com had a reporter on site as well, and Brian Reed-Baiotto talked to a number of people with connections to WSU, Jason Gesser among them:
”One of the things we do as WSU quarterbacks — started by Jack Thompson — is to talk and support one another,” Gesser said. “And in getting to know Tyler, he wanted to do the same thing — help mentor the younger guys. It took three times (of hearing the news of Tyler’s death) for me to finally accept that it’s real. I want this to bring awareness to mental health issues in his honor.”
The story includes many photos, as well as some video of the team arriving, as well as the processional and recessional at the service.
About 1,000 pay tribute to Upland’s Tyler Hilinski, who died last week in Washington – Daily Bulletin
Talented, caring, bright, passionate. Those were the words used by family, friends, teammates and mentors as they remembered Tyler Hilinski during a memorial service for the 21-year-old Upland High School graduate and member of the Washington State football team Saturday afternoon at Damien High School in La Verne.
Tyler Hilinski was young, gifted and loved by family, friends and teammates, all of whom are searching for a reason for his death — Los Angeles Times
One by one, the speakers climbed on the dais and shared their memories of the departed.
Tyler Hilinski remembered by Washington State teammates, family at memorial service — ESPN.com
Nearly 800 people gathered in the gymnasium at Damien High School in La Verne, California, as Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski was remembered for his kindness, infectious laugh and knack for making others happy.
What happens next? Making sure that Tyler’s death is not in vain as the healing process continues. More to come.