Lakota West football star playing through pain of father’s loss

“When I’m out there, I keep him in my head all the time... I play for him.”
Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:35 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - Watching Jyaire Brown play football, it’s not hard to see the kind of future he has in front of him.

Brown isn’t just good, he’s special―a four-star Ohio State commit and the Tri-State’s best overall player who’s just as humble as he is hardworking.

“From offense, defense, special teams, he is that guy,” said Lakota West Head Football Coach Tom Bolden. “He is a dude. He has that ‘it’ factor.”

But even special talents like Brown aren’t immune from tragedy.

For his part, it arrived suddenly in April when his father, Lonnell, died in the middle of the night.

“It’s been hard. I’m not going to lie, I have my days,” Brown said.

“Any 17-year-old who loses their father suddenly like that, it’s heartbreaking,” Bolden added.

It wasn’t long, though, before words of support came in from friends, coaches, teammates, opponents and more.

The message? “You’re going to honor him by following and achieving your dreams.”

Brown took the encouragement and turned it into a sign of motivation he wears around his neck.

“That’s my dad’s name,” Brown said of the chain he wears. “[...]It’s everything to me.”

Now Brown’s talent isn’t the only thing that’s can’t-miss about his play.

“When I’m out there, I keep him in my head all the time,” he said. “I play for him.”

Bolden believes the future remains bright for this young man.

“He is going to do everything he can, on and off the field even at Ohio State, to represent his family and especially his dad.”

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