A year ago, I wrote about one of my all-time favorite football players, former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen. I wanted to write about him back then because he had recently been the subject of an ESPN documentary discussing his weight.
If you’re unfamiliar with Lorenzen, he became a household name as a quarterback because of his skill but mostly because of his stature. As a Wildcat, he weighed in the upper 200s and low 300s, and would almost always be compared to the size of a lineman instead of the size of most quarterbacks.
He would go on to have great success at Kentucky, and would even go to the NFL where he was a backup quarterback for the New York Giants.
But after his NFL days were behind him, his weight started to become more of a problem. He was weighing around 500 pounds, and was told by doctors that he desperately needed to make a lifestyle change.
Thus, he created The Jared Lorenzen Project to motivate himself to lose weight and to hopefully inspire others who were also battling similar issues. It was certainly inspirational for others and helped Lorenzen shed some weight as well.
After I learned about the project a year ago, it sounded like Lorenzen was on the right path to better health, and I just assumed he was continuing to get into better shape.
However, I learned on Kentucky Sports Radio a few weeks ago that Lorenzen had been hospitalized, and that it didn’t look good for him. He showed a little bit of progress in the coming days, but on July 3, he lost the battle. He passed away at the young age of 38, leaving behind two children.
I first heard about it from my wife who sent me a text message while I was at work. I usually don’t take celebrity deaths too badly, but I’ll never forget where I was when I first heard the news. It legitimately made me sad, and even a few weeks later it still feels hard to believe.
The following days, though, showed exactly what type of person Lorenzen was, both on and off the field. The response that was received from friends, fans, coaches, former teammates, and yes, even former opponents, was truly amazing.
I heard many fans call in to Kentucky Sports Radio to talk about how much they loved watching Lorenzen play, but also how much they enjoyed following him after he walked away from football. They loved getting to listen to him during football pre-game shows, and all agreed he was one of the nicest people you could ever meet.
There were also stories of how Lorenzen had inspired them as they fought their own battles with weight. And if they hadn’t been motivated before, they were certainly motivated now.
A memorial fund was organized by Kentucky Sports Radio, and well over $62,000 was raised in a matter of a few days to help Lorenzen’s children pay for college one day. Many businesses donated thousands of dollars, while others simply donated $22 in honor of Lorenzen’s jersey number.
So it was certainly sad to learn about his passing, but the response that followed was very uplifting.
I believe the way Jared Lorenzen carried himself and the way he inspired so many is what we should all strive for. As Christians especially, but just as human beings, we should all strive to motivate and inspire with everything we do.
When we’re choosing the words to say, they should be uplifting and encouraging. We should try to build our brothers and sisters up instead of trying to tear them down.
Our actions should also be used to inspire. We don’t have to be a celebrity to set an example for how people should live and for how God wants us to live.
No matter who you are, there’s going to be someone who will see the life you live, and they could either be inspired by it or completely turned off by it.
1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
I am certainly going to miss Jared Lorenzen. It was such a joy getting to watch him play and getting to listen to him on the radio. He always seemed so nice and was just as much of a Wildcat fan as anyone else.
I don’t know if he can see this but I just want to say thank you one last time for everything you did during your short stay in this world. You used your 38 years to inspire so many people, and gave us all an example of how we ought to live.
Rest well and may God bless you, #22.