James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Image

Trent formed friendships with several media personalities as his story spread, appearing on SportsCenter with ESPN's Scott Van Pelt.

By Emily Caron
January 09, 2019

SportsCenter anchor Scott Van Pelt, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, and College GameDay personalities Tom Rinaldi and Kirk Herbstreit flew to Indianapolis to attend the funeral of Purdue superfan Tyler Trent, who died on Jan. 1 at just 20 years old after his third battle with bone cancer.

Van Pelt, who came to know Trent through Wojnarowski, spoke about Trent's legacy after the ceremony.

“His legacy is that he had this death sentence and he smiled and fought and lived,” Van Pelt said, according to The Indianapolis Star. “Certain people you come across, their spirit is undeniable. He radiated something that I was drawn to. As a dad, I was just FaceTiming my kids. Is it that? As a dad, as a father, you empathize with the idea of that? Or is it just as a human being that you admire someone’s capacity for strength and courage? I think it’s all those things. It doesn’t feel like an accident that we got to help share his story."

He added: “He radiated something that was rare, and a grace and a courage that I admired [...] Ferocity in the fight and a spirit for life.”

Trent enrolled as a student at Purdue in September 2017, but had to leave school during the fall of 2018 after osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer identified in his spine, intensified. Trent had first discovered the disease when he was 15 years old and overcame it following nine months of chemotherapy before it resurfaced two years later.

Trent became a heartwarming fixture within the Boilermakers' season and the college football world. He was on Purdue's sideline for its win over then-No. 2 Ohio State in October after predicting the win.

He and Van Pelt bonded during the night that Purdue upset a then-unbeaten Ohio State, the same night that Trent's story went viral. 

“After they beat Ohio State, he texted me about how it’d be a dream to work with me,” Van Pelt said. “I said, ‘Well let’s work together.’ It was simple. Two days later, he was on the show.”

Trent and Van Pelt cohosted SportsCenter on Oct. 25. After Trent's death last week, Van Pelt honored him on his show by leaving an empty chair on set for Trent, who he had promised had a seat next to him whenever he was ready to cohost again.

Trent also announced the Boilermakers' bowl matchup in the Music City Bowl against Auburn on Twitter, then was flown to the game by Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay in a personal jet. Trent was also named an honorary captain before the game.

The Boilermakers' basketball team paid tribute to Trent during the team's Jan. 3 game against Iowa. The team held a moment of silence for Trent before Thursday's tip off against Iowa, which was followed by a standing ovation for the young fan.

Purdue also put together a touching video in Trent's honor, which was played before the moment of remembrance. Athletes from both teams sported #TylerStrong t-shirts during warm-ups.

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