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SALT LAKE CITY — Early Sunday morning, the Twitter account dedicated to fictional TV character Ted Lasso shared words of wisdom, apropos of his feel-good mindset.
"I like to think grief is the price we pay for truly loving someone," it shared. "And it's worth every penny."
As news was swirling and early reports were trickling out, it seemed as if the message was directed specifically toward the Utah football program after a gut-wrenching year of loss. Just as those inside the program started to heal from the accidental shooting death of running back Ty Jordan on Christmas, tragedy struck again with terrible irony.
Defensive back Aaron Lowe, who switched his jersey number from No. 2 to No. 22 in honor of his late friend Jordan, was killed early Sunday morning in a reportedly unprovoked shooting at a house party hours after Utah beat Washington State.
Though Lowe's impact on the field was not as noticeable as that of Jordan to the average viewer, he was equally loyal to the Utah football program and his new family there.
From the moment Lowe committed to Utah, he was an ardent supporter of the program and worked tirelessly to get others to see why he loved the Utes. None of that changed when he enrolled on campus and went to work with his newfound brotherhood.
Lowe was known for his smile and his unmatched ability to show love to those around him. Even with limited playing time on defense, he went to work each day with a smile on his face and an attitude to make those around him better.
On Sunday, those who knew him most were left trying to remember that smile. It was another one of their brothers gone too soon.
"Life isn't fair and the pain will never leave. Same high school as TY Jordan," former Utes wide receiver coach Guy Holliday tweeted. "From day one A Lowe had a smile and a genuine soul. He loved the U of U. He overcame every obstacle that many will never understand. May angels wrap their arms around his family and the Team 🙏🏽"
Lowe was the physical embodiment of the team's memory of Ty Jordan. Not only did his jersey match his former high school teammate, but he was the first recipient of the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship — an honor that was awarded him by his teammates.
Lowe was supposed to be the one to see Utah through the tough times, at least as the one to carry on Jordan's legacy on the field in the moment.
Now, the healing process starts all over again — with a fresh set of wounds. This time, it comes amid an already trying football season. If there's any solace in the whirlwind of emotions, it's that it came during the team's bye week. It's an opportunity to focus on the life of their teammate and not worry about an impending game this weekend.
The last thing anyone — player, coach or fan — wants to do right now is worry about a game.
Following Utah's unusual win over Washington State over the weekend, head coach Kyle Whittingham said the bye week couldn't have come at a better time — a common phrase for the longtime coach each season as he looks ahead toward the off week.
And while Whittingham's comments were in reference to the extra time needed to help Utah heal from several injuries, his words would ring true on a deeper and unfortunate level just 24 hours later.
"It's a great time for a bye week — couldn't be at a better time," he said. "You couldn't script anything better than right now having a bye week. That is very welcome and we need all the time we get to regroup and figure some things out and get some guys healed up."
Unfortunately for the program, the script didn't include another tragedy. There's no script on how to overcome an untimely and tragic death, especially nine months to the day of Jordan's death.
Utah should be healing from injuries and working to correct mistakes on the field. Instead, they face an impending funeral and a healing process that takes much longer than a bye week to overcome.
There's no timetable to overcome grief; just an opportunity to honor the legacy of the ones who were put in your path.
"We've got to do it for the ones who's not here," Utah quarterback Ja'Quinden Jackson said in spring. "So we're going to keep pushing, moving forward and keep grinding — grind it out till the wheels fall off."
Utah will keep "grinding," but the loss will not be easy to overcome. Jordan and Lowe's legacy will live on through the number they both shared.