Fight like a tiger. Four simple words that came at a crucial time for a young athlete facing the toughest opponent of his life.
The words were written by Les Miles, head coach of the LSU Tigers who is known for his gutsy play-calling in late-game situations, and sent to Derek while he spent his birthday in the hospital. Like any true athlete, Derek took Coach’s words to heart and kept the piece of paper with him throughout treatment.
When given the opportunity for a wish, Derek chose to meet the man whose words had been providing strength and encouragement since the day they arrived in the mail. On September 30th, Derek boarded a flight to Louisiana, where he spent several days absorbed in Tiger-land. He attended Les’ pre-game show, where he was able to meet and talk with the inspirational Coach. On game day, he was given sideline tickets to the game against Eastern Michigan, where he watched Les Miles coach the Tigers to another victory for a perfect 4-0 record.
The Wish trip has since come and gone, but Coach Miles’ words and influence remain. Derek is currently a freshman at Emporia State University, where he is a manager for the football team and studying to be a coach.