Anybody with views of the mountains east of Salt Lake City would've seen something beautiful on Saturday night.
Following the terrible news that star Ty Jordan died late Christmas night, the University of Utah lit the 'U' 24 hours after Jordan passed away while at home in Texas for the holiday break.
The lighting of the 'U' is symbolic in nature for Utah athletics, as it's usually done after one fo the athletic programs secures a victory during their respective season. But this time, it was meant as a way to honor Jordan, the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked to learn of Ty Jordan’s passing early this morning and our thoughts and prayers are with those who loved him dearly, including the young men in our football program," Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a press release Saturday morning. "Our priority is on supporting his family and the student-athletes, coaches and staff in our football program who are so deeply hurting right now. Coach Whittingham and I are working closely to provide support and resources for our Utah Football family in this extremely difficult time.”
The Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office officially reported the death of Jordan Sunday morning. This comes 36 hours after the Denton Police Department responded to an 'accidental shooting' of a person on the same block and the same time where a person died.
Denton PD has repeatedly and adamantly said it will not identify the person who died Christmas night following the accidental shooting. The Tarrant County's medical examiner hasn't either and is expected do so in the coming days.
The Utah program also honored Jordan on Saturday night with a photo of the freshman running back on the massive jumbotron located in the south end zone of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“Words cannot express the devastation and heartache that our team is feeling right now upon learning of the tragic death of our teammate and brother, Ty Jordan," Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham said per a release. "Ty’s personality and smile were infectious and he made a huge impact on our program in the short time he was with us. He leaves an indelible mark on each of us and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends. From the bottom of our hearts, all of us in the Utah Football Family want to say we love you Ty and may you rest in peace.”
Just 19 years old, Jordan had this charisma that attracted nearly everyone around him. His smile and beaming eyes revealed his youthful exuberance, his energy permeating throughout the program.
On the field, Jordan was dynamic, blessed with incredible power, vision and intelligence. The run against Colorado was his top highlight, but it was just one of many breathtaking plays from his short Utah career. He had the skills necessary to play in the NFL.
But what he did without the ball in his hands was perhaps more remarkable. Jordan's mother passed away in August due to cancer. He committed to Utah while she was sick and began his freshman season during one of life's most devastating moments.
With every touch of the ball, Jordan gave Utah football fans hope about a brighter future. Every step he took and word he spoke would've made his mother proud, and in doing so, he created his own legacy.
Whenever people feel down and out, whenever the moment seems impossible, always remember what Jordan did. Let his legacy be something that unites us all and provides light during the darkest of times.
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