Sean English, runner who lost leg in high school, wins first Tyler Trent memorial award

Photo: Ryan Garza/Detroit Free Press

Sean English, runner who lost leg in high school, wins first Tyler Trent memorial award

Boys Track and Field

Sean English, runner who lost leg in high school, wins first Tyler Trent memorial award


Courage. Character. Resilience.

Purdue superfan Tyler Trent had them all.

So does heroic teen Sean English, the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy (Mich.) track star who lost his leg helping others, but went on to run again, just as he had promised.

His grit and character not only pulled him through his darkest days, but made him the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award, a memorial scholarship honoring the Boilermaker superfan who died Jan. 1 of cancer.

Boilermakers fan and coin flip participant Tyler Trent looks on from on the field before a game against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports)

English, a freshman in explanatory studies from Northville, received the award Wednesday morning from Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, who also announced that a memorial gate leading to the student-section entrance of Ross-Ade Stadium will be erected in honor of Tyler Trent, who inspired the nation as he cheered on his beloved football team while courageously battling cancer.

For English, the timing of the scholarship was noteworthy: Almost exactly two years ago, on April 2, 2017, he lost his leg after being struck by a car on the side of a highway, where he had stopped to help some teenage accident victims.

“For this award and for this honor to be coming out, especially at this time — It’s  God. It’s God working through Tyler. And it’s really coming home that Tyler is watching over me,” said Sean, who got choked up during his speech.

 “I’m still in awe that I will be winning the first Tyler Trent award, because the scholarship is amazing,” said Sean, who thanked many people for the honor, including the university president who picked him out of five finalists. Purdue would not disclose the scholarship amount, saying only that Sean will be able to finish his degree thanks to the award.

Sean English, the inaugural recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award, speaks about the honor as, from left, Tyler’s parents Kelly and Tony Trent, and Purdue President Mitch Daniels look on. The Trents unveiled the memorial gate in honor of their son at the entrance of Ross-Ade Stadium as Daniels announced the gate and the scholarship recipient. (Purdue University Photo/Rebecca Wilcox) (Photo: Purdue University/Rebecca Wilcox)

“At the end of the day, this honor and this award will go beyond any monetary value,”  And that’s Tyler’s name — it’s an honor to be attached to anything close to that,” Sean said in receiving the award. “Tyler is a hero, and Tyler Trent’s family is also a hero.”

Then he thanked Tyler’s family, saying:

“One, for raising such an amazing young man, and for giving me something that I want to be when I grow up. I want to be Tyler Trent when I grow up,” Sean said.

Before leaving the podium, Sean stressed that he wanted to get one point across:

“Make this about Tyler Trent. Today is his day. This is his gate. This is such an honor to be attached to his name.”

For U of D Principal Anthony Trudel, who saw Sean during some of his darkest days in the hospital and watched as he bravely fought through physical and emotional pain,  the Tyler Trent award is more than inspiring.

It’s fitting.

“To see where he is now, and then to receive this honor —  I am not surprised. This is Sean English right here,” Trudel said. “His story just really fits Tyler Trent and his battle with cancer and the adversity he went though. There are so many parallels. This couldn’t be a more deserving honor for Sean.”


More USA TODAY High School Sports