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Sunday, May 29, 2005
Grant remembered for living life to its fullest

Associated Press

DUNCANVILLE, Texas -- An estimated 2,000 family members, friends and teammates gathered to mourn the death and celebrate the life of Oklahoma State football player Vernon George Grant Jr.

Grant's funeral Saturday was conducted at the Inspiring Body of Christ Church, only a few blocks from Duncanville High School, where Grant had been a football and track star.

Grant, who died Monday in an automobile accident, is survived by his father, Vernon Grant, Sr., and a 9-month-old son, Vernon Grant III.

"You can look at this a lot of different ways," said OSU assistant head coach Joe DeForest. "I'm going to look at it -- and I hope our team does too -- the way Vernon bounced back from his mother's death so quickly. I hope we're all strong enough to learn from Vernon."

DeForest, OSU head coach Mike Gundy, most of the football team and dozens of high school and college teammates traveled to Dallas for the funeral.

Every Louisiana State University coach who left OSU earlier this year attended, including former OSU head coach Les Miles, who was among more than a dozen people who made remarks.

"I was very fortunate to coach Vernon Grant in college," Miles said. "He lived life. He lived on the edge. He touched all of us. He filled up all our lives."

A veteran of 27 college starts, the 21-year-old Grant was a small but tenacious defensive back who finished second on the team in tackles his sophomore year. He would have been a senior this fall.

Grant was an Academic All-Big 12 honoree who was on course to receive a mechanical engineering degree. He also was the president of OSU's chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

But friends said he will best be remembered for his ability to live life to the fullest and inspire others.

OSU President David Schmidly and athletic director Harry Birdwell both said Grant was special.

"Sorry, guys, of all the guys on our team I think I loved Vernon most," Birdwell said. "He was terrific. I don't know why he died. But I do know why he lived. Vernon Grant taught us how to live. He taught us how to love. He taught us how to be a teammate. He taught us how to set high goals. He taught us to care at the right moment and time."

Schmidly, a former Texas Tech president, said he instinctively gravitated to Grant in the locker room following every game.

"This hurt me as much as anything I've ever been associated with as a university president," Schmidly said. "This is tough, real tough. It wasn't about Vernon as a football player. It was about Vernon as a leader, the kind of person he was and the kind of student he was. He was exceptional in every regard."