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Dick Harmon: Ty Detmer has always lived with eyes up

Published: Saturday, May 4 2013 5:50 p.m. MDT

Ty Detmer sets a pitch in motion.

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Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of columns centered on power of athletes off the field. To read part one click here.

Ty Detmer has walked the talk his whole life.

Steve Faucett didn’t know he would die within a few days, but he realized he was not getting better and things were serious as he battled for his life in the critical care unit of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center 26 years ago.

A huge BYU fan, his neighbors rallied to try and lift his spirits, including me. I called Ty Detmer, then a BYU freshman football player who I’d become acquainted with during his senior season at San Antonio’s Southwest High School in 1986. Though Detmer was years away from achieving the fame that was his in years to come, I asked him if he could visit Faucett and cheer him up. Detmer showed up at Steve’s bedside and talked football for 15 minutes. When Detmer left, although in pain and his organs failing him, you couldn’t get the smile off Faucett’s face. Detmer had that kind of impact on Faucett in his remaining days.

A few months later, again, I imposed on Detmer. I asked him if he’d be interested in joining some Boy Scouts for a Dutch oven dinner and fishing at Scofield. Detmer agreed to spend time with the boys. He drove to Scofield Reservoir and met me near a dirt road at 5:45 p.m. on a Friday 26 years ago. I sat in my car waiting, not knowing if he’d come through. At 5:48 I saw dust from a car, and as it got closer, it was Detmer in his Ford Bronco.

Steve Curt, now a Pleasant Grove resident, remembers. “In 1988, I was the coach of a group of Varsity Scouts in Orem. These young men were not all avid outdoor type Scouts, but we managed to convince them that a week at Bristlecone High Adventure Camp (at the top of Price Canyon — above Scofield Reservoir) would be fun.

“I was totally amazed that Ty made the time and would drive that far for a bunch of boys,” said Curt. “Later, I would learn that Ty loved the outdoors — but he loved people even more; especially young people.

“I was also amazed at how much of a gentleman he was (definitely not the prima donna superstar we see all too often) and how kind he was to everyone. I don't remember anything he said, but I remember he made sure everyone was comfortably included in the activity. Everyone went home feeling a little better about themselves and about the world because Ty reached out to each of us.”

A couple of weeks ago, Detmer established a Facebook page to market his hunting ranch near Austin, Texas. A man who befriended him messaged Detmer that his father was to undergo heart surgery and asked if he could call him in the hospital. He did. After the surgery, Detmer called again to check on his status. The man was beside himself with gratitude that Detmer took the time and cared. It lifted him.

This past week, he spoke at an LDS fireside in Salem, piggybacking an appearance at a 7-on-7 passing tournament where he spoke at a clinic in Draper.

Detmer, it seems, gets it. There is a power to influence given him, and it would be selfish to not be involved where he can make a difference. God gave him talent; shined a light on him. He uses that sports light to highlight others.

“That’s the way I was raised,” said Detmer. “My father had a hard time saying ‘no’ to people. When people asked him for a favor, he couldn’t refuse. I’ve kind of made that a part of my own life.”

The above Detmer anecdotes are a sliver of hundreds of such acts by the man who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December 2012.

Detmer is part of a movement nationwide to invite athletes from all backgrounds, races, geographics and sports to step forward and use their celebrity to help others.

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