Chad Stuckey’s phone rang early Friday morning, which he thought was odd. To get a call from one of his players. On the day after Thanksgiving.
“Hey, Tre, what’s up?” Stuckey said, recognizing the number.
Stuckey is the offensive line coach at South Lyon East, and the call came from the phone of Trevon Tyler, a junior at East who played guard and tackle until a knee injury ended his season.
“There was a somber voice,” Stuckey said. “He said, ‘This is Tre’s older brother. Are you a coach at East?'”
Stuckey said he was.
“And he said, ‘I just wanted to let you know that Tre passed away.’”
Stuckey was stunned. He had just texted with his 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman a few days earlier after he had surgery on his knee.
And now he was dead? A junior in high school? After knee surgery?
A GoFundMe account, set up to help the family, said Trevon had died “due to a complication of that surgery.”
Someone posted the news of Trevon’s death on his social media account. South Lyon East head coach Joe Pesci quickly scheduled a team meeting for any of the players who were still in the area during the Thanksgiving break.
“It was tough,” he said. “The guys start coming in. All you want to do is hug each one of them and tell them that you love them. We hugged every kid on the way in, and then on the way out it was the same thing. You are still kind of numb and don’t know what to do. We just want to make sure we are there for our kids.”
They met in the locker room to cry, and grieve, and tell stories about Trevon.
“We had about 20 guys there, six coaches and my athletic director,” Pesci said. “For about an hour we sat in the locker (room) and talked about the situation about Trevon.
“We just expressed to our guys, ‘We are all hurting. You are going to be hurting for a while. The big thing is, don’t keep it in. Make sure as feelings start to build up, reach out to one of us, to a teammate, a parent, whatever. Just to get it out.’”
A couple of players stood up and shared stories about this massive offensive lineman.
“Zander Desentz, our quarterback, stood up and talked to the guys about how bad it hurts right now, but from here on out, we dedicate everything to Tre,” Pesci said. “And think about everything we are going to do. The offseason. Whether it’s getting up to go to weights. You have no excuse. It was a pretty good message from him.”
Pesci said South Lyon East will honor Trevon with a schoolwide whiteout on Monday.
“The administration and crisis team will be on hand to help any student who needs to talk,” he said. “In the community, they put it out there to tie a white ribbon around your tree in your yard for Trevon. I think they have wristbands being brought up for students.”
On the GoFundMe site, donations have been accompanied by emotional tributes from his teammates, classmates and friends.
“Trevon was one of my good friends who impacted many lives and never stopped caring for people.”
“He was a wonderful young man.”
“My daughter Leah was a friend of Trevon and had many classes with him. She said he was a great friend and friends with so many students and loved by everyone!”
“The football team and the South Lyon community will never forget the impact such a bright young man had.”
“As a kid, just the nicest, most fun-loving, caring kid,” Pesci said. “Walked with a pretty big pep in his step. He always said hi to everybody. Everybody loved him. He was a little bit of a jokester. Had this big laugh. Always made you smile. As a player, he was a big body for us. He was getting better every game.”
Trevon started every game on the offensive line and rotated along the defensive line before he was injured.
“When you are that big, it’s tough to get off a block like that,” Pesci said. “He played really well for us for seven games.”
Trevon suffered a torn meniscus Oct. 4 in a game against Milford.
“He had surgery maybe three or 3½ weeks ago to have that fixed,” Pesci said. “That surgery went really well. They fixed everything up. He had been doing physical therapy with our trainer at the school.
“I guess he had to go back in, to get something cleaned up, a week ago last Monday. They said that went well. They took care of everything. Everybody went on break. He was in good spirits. I guess, Thursday night, maybe late, he developed a blood clot. And Friday morning, we were told he developed a blood clot, which led to a heart attack, and he passed away Friday morning.
“It’s somewhat mind-boggling that it could happen.”
Stuckey said he believes Trevon would have played college football.
“I think he could have played at the next level, I don’t know at what division,” he said. “But he was an athletic kid, good feet. Hardworking kid.”
Stuckey said Trevon embodied the characteristics preached at the school.
“We have a saying at East,” he said. “It’s called Be EAST. We tell the kids, ‘Be Engaged, Be Accountable, Be Selfless and Be Tough.’”
Now they are working on how to honor Trevon, including the team’s slogan.
“When we break a huddle, we chant, ‘We are?’ And everybody goes, ‘East!’” Stuckey said. “And then, ‘We will?’ And we put something on there.
“Our slogan for next year is going to be: ‘We are East! We will? Play for Tre!'”