In August, Tyler Summitt was meticulously prepared -- his standard operating procedure -- to propose to his high school sweetheart, AnDe Ragsdale. The fact that he'd recently undergone an emergency appendectomy was of no consequence. Even with quite literally a tender side, he showed his tender side.
"He was still able to go on a walk with me," Ragsdale said of how Tyler popped the question. "He had this beautiful Bible made for me, and he read a verse out of it. On the front of it he had engraved, 'Mr. and Mrs. Summitt.' It was perfect; it was simple and sweet, and that's what I love. He was great despite having a really sore abdomen."
Indeed, once Tyler has a plan, virtually nothing is going to stop him from seeing it through. Remind you of anybody?
Tyler, the only child of Pat Summitt, is a young man now: engaged to be married and off to a flying start in his career. Which happens to be the same job his mother did for the last 38 years: coaching basketball. Tyler is an assistant at Marquette in Milwaukee, forging a trail all his own.
Women's hoops fans of a certain age remember baby Tyler in his mother's arms after her Tennessee team won the 1991 NCAA title. They recall the dapper little boy on the bench who took so seriously the chore of placing an orange footstool in the middle of huddles for his mom to sit on during timeouts. They watched him grow into a teenager who played basketball.
When he was in high school, Tyler realized that coaching wasn't just something he felt an affinity for because of his mom. It was his calling, too.
"I'd been watching film all my life," Tyler said. "When I was a kid, I would really have no idea what my mom and other coaches were saying when they were pointing to those 10 people on the court. But as time went on, I could start seeing the same things they did. And maybe even point out a few things myself. I could really understand it."
As Pat said, "Once Tyler started seeing things exactly as I did on film, I knew he was ready to coach."
Tyler guided youth basketball teams and was a regular at Tennessee's men's and women's summer camps.
"I knew I had a passion for it," he said. "Basketball, and the lessons I learned from it, really helped me in my life. I wanted to share that with student-athletes."
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