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Rest in Peace, Tyrek Coger; When sports and the real world collide

Oklahoma State basketball newcomer, Tyrek Coger, passed away on Thursday. He was 21.

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Oklahoma State Rob Ferguson-USA TODAY Sports

A young, 21 year old man passed away on Thursday night. A young man’s family learned they lost a loved one. A community mourned the loss of a brand new member in the form of a 6’10” basketball monster.

His name: Tyrek Coger.

Not even five months from his first game in Gallagher-Iba Arena, Coger collapsed during a team workout in Boone Pickens Stadium. He was rushed to Stillwater Medical Center and was pronounced dead less than an hour and a half later.

Coger had just arrived to Stillwater not even a month ago after signing late to the 2016 class for the Cowboys. He was expected to compete for a starting job in the paint for Brad Underwood and his new team. His dreams were in front of him, not behind.

Lots of us, whether we like to admit it or not, have dreams that we haven’t pursued or fulfilled. Coger pursued his, and nearly fulfilled them. His death is nothing short of a tragedy. A tragedy for his family, friends, teammates, coaches, and the entire OSU community. And with his dreams in his hands, it makes his death that much more devastating.

Death isn’t all about mourning, though. It should be about reflection as well. Reflecting on the good things a person did throughout their life makes mourning their loss easier.

Coger was tenacious; a fierce competitor. He challenged John Wall to a game of one on one, swearing up and down that he would beat Wall. And he nearly did.

There is a sobering dimension to death. Most of us consume sports, reality television, politics, and social media and live each day like we have tomorrow; like it’s a guarantee. Death is something that (hopefully) makes us reevaluate our priorities.

Death is inherently negative. And with so much negativity in the world today, it’s easy to focus on the bad things in the world. Even more so when politicians build entire campaigns on them, and the media foams at the mouth for it. Like most of you, I was flipping through Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN for coverage of the Republican National Convention when the news of Coger’s death broke.

Negativity everywhere.

We saw something different on Thursday night. What we saw, and felt, in the wake of Coger’s death was a beacon of light in a dark world. The outpour of support from the Oklahoma State family and beyond is something that should inspire all of us to live, love, and laugh.

Coger’s friends and teammates had some especially heartfelt words for him.

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There is one thing that is obvious. Oklahoma State University is a family. A close-knit, passionate, loving family.

When the news of Coger’s death arrived, our first reaction was to show our support for his family. It was about supporting the loved ones of someone that, while only in the family for a short time, was already one of us. Coger never will get to live out his dreams that he was so close to grasping, and that’s crushing. Absolutely crushing.

But the outpour of support and friendliness in his memory is inspiring.

It took a tragic, unnecessary death to bring light. I found the bright side in life today having seen the way the Oklahoma State community came together. I encourage you to make an attempt to find the bright side in all that life deals. The world can be a dark place, but bright spots are there if you just look.

Take Coger’s word for it ...

Rest in peace, Cowboy.