Doxey’s memory never forgotten
July 13, 2008. A day that will forever be remembered by players of the 2008-2009 Oregon football team.
It wasn’t a day where a big game was won, or where an athlete was given an award-in fact it was during summer workouts, not even during the regular season.
The day, a Sunday, was supposed to be a day of relaxation. A group of players-like they had for years-went up the McKenzie River to the Marcola Road Bridge to jump in on inner tubes and float the river.
One of their friends never made it back.
Todd Lamar Doxey, a 19-year old redshirt freshman defensive back, jumped from the nearly 40-foot height of the bridge. Once hitting the water, he tried to make for a boat ramp, but he struggled in the 62-degree water and couldn’t keep his head above water. A nearby boat helped pull him out, and he was transported to McKenzie-Willamette Hospital. He was then moved to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 8:06 p.m.
It’s a sad story. A teenager in the prime of his life being taken from his loved ones. Way too early. Way too young.
Soon after, a memorial service was held in his hometown of San Diego. Phil Knight even funded a plane so players and coaches from Oregon could go. 3,000 people packed the church where it was held. It was a testament to how many lives the young man had touched.
Stories surfaced about Doxey’s loving nature and his fight to play on Saturdays. There were stories of him sneaking into his grandma’s house on trips back to San Diego during his freshman year to surprise her. Or how he gave his allotted tickets to games to a kid in a wheelchair he had befriended outside of Autzen Stadium. Or even of all the gifts he would bring home to give to family and friends.
He promised his grandmother that he would run out of the tunnel at Autzen Stadium in the fall of 2008 and play. On a visit they had stood in the empty stadium and he imagined the roar of the crowd as the team ran behind the Oregon Duck on the motorcycle. It was likely to happen, he was third on the depth chart at safety.
But then the accident happened, and just like that he was gone. And instead of Doxey pumping his arms into the air as he walked down the tunnel, his family took his place at the first game of the season on August 30, 2008 against the University of Washington Huskies. They were there to witness Doxey’s dream.
His teammates, coaches, friends and family all coped with the loss. He closest friends tattooed pictures of his face on themselves to never forget. The football team wore a patch on the back of their helmets with Doxey’s initials, and every game a player was selected to wear his No. 29 jersey.
All-American safety Patrick Chung, the man Doxey was behind on the depth chart, wore the number first on that night against the Huskies. It became a proud marker every Saturday. At home games, it was announced who would be wearing the jersey and the crowd would fall silent for a moment, remembering what had happened.
Now it has been one year to the day of the tragic incident. But people still remember. Every step players run during their workouts they remember. Every time the initials “TD” are read they remember. Every time the number 29 is seen, they remember.
But it’s okay, because without remembering the ones we love, their memories would forever fade into nothing. Their generosity and their laughter forever forgotten.
And that’s where this tale of heartache takes a twist. In order to make sure Doxey’s work ethic, determination, loving and caring attitude is never forgotten, a scholarship has been made at his alma mater of Hoover High School in San Diego. The Todd Doxey Memorial Scholarship Fund was established with excess donations from the funeral last July in order to help future athletes realize their dreams of playing college sports.
It’s a nice way to remember a kid who gave everything to his friends and family. His dream ended in the McKenzie River, however, other kids will get their chances because of the memory of Doxey.
In the end, Doxey’s drowning taught people that life is indeed precious and without so much as a warning, it can be ripped away from anyone-even someone in the height of their life. Doxey deserves more words than what I or any other person can write. He was a great kid and his friends know that he would want everyone to remember him with laughs instead of tears. Instead of dwelling on the past, he would want them to become stronger, better people.
One year later, we still remember you Todd.
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