Friends mourn loss of gentle lion Brett Young
Like a sledgehammer to those who knew and loved him, the news came down former Ottawa Rough Riders defensive back Brett Young was dead.
He would have turned 48 on June 3. Kidney failure, they’re saying.
We know he was a helluva football player. But he was also an all-star in the game of life — a good man. From even the most hardened — men who savagely beat on each other for a living — there will be a waterfall of tears. That’s what Young, who was found dead Sunday in his apartment in Torrance, CA., meant to those who knew him. Family, teammates and friends will mourn the loss of the gentle lion.
“When I heard, I didn’t want to believe it,” said Tammy Laverty, who considers herself fortunate to have become a good friend. “I went to text him. I just didn’t think it could be true.
“He was a gentle, gentle soul. He never had a bad thing to say about anybody. He was very in depth. He loved lyrics, he wrote poetry. He was interested in politics and what made things tick.”
Laverty stayed in touch with Young, who played in the CFL from 1989-96 (mostly with Ottawa, but also in B.C. and Hamilton), and recently reconnected with him.
“I talked to him on the phone for about an hour about a month before Christmas,” she said. “He never complained. When he told me he was on dialysis and was waiting for a transplant, I didn’t think it would take his life. He didn’t talk about it much. It was like, ‘I’m going to deal with it and I’m going to be all right.’ He was very nonchalant; he was just going to go with the flow.
“He would use football as a metaphor. He’d say, ‘It’s just like football, you have to move on to the next play or you won’t recover.'”
Teammates and opponents alike “got” Young. They knew what he brought to the field each day.
“When I think of Brett, I think of class personified,” said Ken Evraire, who played with and against Young. “He was a fantastic teammate and a fantastic competitor. He didn’t say a lot, but when he did, it resonated with the rest of the room. He was always open to a good laugh. When you played against him, there’d be banter, ‘I’ll get you next time,’ that kind of thing. I’ve seen a lot of Americans not care. But he was sincerely proud to be an Ottawa Rough Rider.”
How good a player was he? He was a CFL East all-star, more solid than spectacular.
“You had to be better than good to win battles on the field against him,” said Evraire. “He wasn’t Less Browne, but ask any of the guys in the secondary. You didn’t have to worry about him. He was a great guy who you could rely on in all situations.”
And now, he’s gone.
“You know when you hear football guys say when they leave the game they’re going to miss the guys,” said Evraire. “When an athlete says they’re going to miss the guys, they’re thinking about somebody like Brett Young. He’s going to be missed.”
“I was in lockdown after the shooting (of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial in October) and he was the first call I got after my parents to see if I was all right,” said Laverty. “He was such a loving, wonderful, kind person.”
Thanks Brett. We won’t forget you.