It takes a truly special person to leave a lasting legacy despite being in a place for less than a year.
Ty Jordan was that sort of special person.
Now after his tragic death on Christmas night due to an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound, Jordan's legacy will live on forever.
Utah athletics announced on Tuesday afternoon that it has established the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship to honor the memory of the former freshman running back.
According to the release...
"The Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a student-athlete in the football program who exemplifies the inspiring qualities that Jordan displayed through his work ethic, positivity and perseverance through adversity."
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. 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.
It would've been understandable if he had stepped away for a while. After all, there are things more important than football. But Jordan never sulked. He kept working and climbed the depth chart.
The first gift to the scholarship fund came from head coach Kyle Whittingham and his wife Jamie, who donated $100,000.
“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 in a statement. "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.”
Following his tragic death, multiple people throughout the country have paid tribute to what is undoubtedly a like taken far too early.
The University of Utah lit the 'U' on Saturday, Dec. 26, just hours after a makeshift memorial began to take shape at the Utah football facility with flowers, posters and pictures. The Utah Jazz also held a moment of silence the night of the 26th during their home game.
Jordan has also been honored by the program in many ways. The most recent show love came from the Utah football grounds crew when they painted Jordan's number in a heart on the lawn in front of the Utes football facility.
The Pac-12 Network re-aired the final three games of Jordan's career on Dec. 30, games in which he averaged 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns in leading the Utes to victories over Oregon State, then No. 21 Colorado and Washington State. That number rushing would've ranked third in the nation and second in the Pac-12.
Another show of love and respect came on Dec. 29 when Colorado and Texas squared off in the Alamo Bowl in Dallas, Texas — Jordan's home state. Both sides linked arms as a moment of silence was held prior to kickoff.
But even in moments of tragedy and heartbreak, BYU proved that rivalries can be put aside as the love and humanitarian side of those involved take center stage. That's exactly what happened on Dec. 30 when Cougars proved that despite the intense fighting on the field, both in-state programs are still a part of a larger family; the college football family.
According to Utah, BYU sent the Utes three artifacts that honor the legacy and memory of Jordan.
Among the items sent by Kalani Sitake’s program was a jersey with No. 22 and Jordan on the back along with the interlocking 'U' at the bottom. It also included a tin can with dog tags inside, which has Utah's logo and a message written that said:
“Utah family, on behalf of BYU football, we want to express our deepest condolences for the loss of Ty Jordan. Regardless of where our loyalties lie, the state of Utah lost a phenomenal football player and person; one who exemplified being a great teammate, competitor, and son. His legacy will live on through us each day as we strive to be the best we can be. Fly high #22!”
He finished the season with 597 rushing yards on just 83 carries with six touchdowns, an average of 119.4 rushing yards per game that ranked ninth in the country and No. 1 amongst freshman.
Jordan capped off his sensational debut season when he was named the Pac-12's Offensive Freshman of the Year. Jordan is just the second Ute to win a conference yearly award, joining the man he replaced in Moss.
Jordan began to shine in just his second game of his career when he was electric against Washington, perennially one of the top defenses in the nation. Despite suffering a 24-21 heart-breaking loss, Jordan showed why he was dangerous with the ball in his hands when he ran for 97 yards on just 10 carries — and that was while still sharing carries with Brumfield and Wilmore.
If Utah fans thought that was good, they had no idea what was in store for them over the final three games of the year when he was elevated to starter.
Jordan averaged 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns per game in leading the Utes to victories over Oregon State, then No. 21 Colorado and Washington State. That number rushing would've ranked third in the nation and second in the Pac-12.
Jordan's celebration of life will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Wednesday at 11 a.m.
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