There are plenty of generic altruisms about team sports. Among the most popular are that a team "sticks together," or that teammates "lift each other up." As cliche as they can sound, sometimes those generic mission statements actually do speak to a team's true identity, perhaps never more clearly than with the case of the Detroit Loyola (Michigan) High School football team and Loyola senior Tanez Hervey.
Hervey, a linebacker for undefeated Loyola, watched as his mother, Tamecka Patterson, was shot and killed by her boyfriend this summer. As the Detroit News reported, the man also shot Harvey's twin brother, Tremel, in the thigh and chased Tanez through the house, shooting at him at least four times before finally giving up and later killing himself.
The murder-suicide was a nightmarish end to the Hervey twins' six-month reunion with their biological mother. Given up for adoption, the brothers were raised in another family before reuniting with their mother after they turned 18.
With nowhere to turn, the Herveys moved in with their older brother, Thomas, a Loyola graduate who lived nearby. More and more, Tanez Hervey found himself turning to his teammates while searching for solace from the horror that he was faced with over the summer.
"They let me know I still have a family," Hervey told the Detroit News. "I took two weeks off, but when I came back, they were behind me, encouraged me and lifted me up. They called, stayed with me and all came to the funeral."
Even though no one on the team knew Hervey's mother before her death, they decided together to honor her on their helmets for Hervey's senior season, placing a sticker with the name "Ty" -- Tamecka Patterson's nickname -- on the back of each player's headgear.
Hervey appreciated the tribute, and he hasn't let his recent personal trauma derail his larger goals. He continues to work for a Detroit law firm through the school's innovative Loyola Work Experience Program, which places students in mentorships in real world offices and defrays the cost of their tuition as a result.
And Hervey still has big plans for his future, too. The linebacker fully intends to study law or chemical engineering in college, and he plans on continuing his football career as well. Before then, he has unfinished business with his current football family, including a matchup at Bishop Foley (Mich.) High School tonight.