The years have passed, but the pain has remained. No,
But pain? Victor Ugolyn lives with pain.
It was on that horrific day nearly eight years ago that
A couple of days after the disaster, I called Victor. His son had been a basketball player at Columbia University, and
"Uh, hello ... My name is Jeff Pearlman, and I work for Sports Illustrated. I was looking for a parent of Tyler Ugolyn ..."
Initially, Victor didn't want to talk. Understandably so. It was all too raw; too soon; too difficult. "I'm having a hard time," he said. "I'm sorry."
Ten minutes later, my phone rang. "Well," said Victor, "maybe I'll tell you a little about Tyler. Just to see ..."
The ensuing 45-minute dialogue led to a piece,
He possessed about, oh, a half dozen nicknames ("Styles" seemed to be his favorite), and once helped accidentally flood much of the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlanta City after he and his friends left the bath water running. In short, he was a really good kid. "Nobody's perfect," his father told me, "but he aimed high."
Through the years, I have struck up a friendship with Victor, a retired business executive who is now a private investor. We e-mail semi-regularly, and his letters are often an unorthodox mixture of dismay and resolve. He is eternally searching for meaning, for something to explain why this would happen to his beloved oldest son. Of late, however, Victor's e-mails have come to symbolize an attitude that blows my mind: Steely determination.
Victor, along with his wife
In conjunction with last year's Final Four, the foundation refurbished the court at San Antonio's Davis-Scott YMCA, then held a youth clinic hosted by Texas coach
The Tyler Ugolyn Foundation is a tax-exempt, non-profit, charitable organization. All contributions are tax-deductible, and can be made to: The Tyler Ugolyn Foundation c/o Ridgefield Bank; PO Box 2050; Ridgefield, CT 06877-0950