In his very first comments to the media following a tough two-point loss to LSU Saturday, head coach Gene Chizik announced that it was “a very heart” with which the Tigers played as student assistant coach Joe Bagwell died of unspecified causes shortly before kickoff.
Many of you, either via email or in the comments of that posting, have asked if there were any details as to the young man’s passing.
According to the Huntsville Times, Bagwell was born with literally half of a heart, living with just a right ventricle that forced him to undergo three heart operations before he had reached the age of three. Those health issues ultimately led to his death at the way-too-young age of 23.
His medical condition never allowed him to play football, but the then-teenager was a part of the sport in high school by serving as his team’s student manager. After graduating high school, he was determined to become a part of the Auburn football program he loved dearly, as evidenced by this anecdote relayed by his father to the paper.
His dad said his son was always persistent, even asking former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville how to get involved with the team — and for his cell phone number — after a church service in Auburn. To no one’s surprise, Joseph found a spot on the team, eventually helping Chizik and the coaches with special teams and the offensive line and earning himself a national championship ring in 2010.
“That championship) was the highlight of his career,” his father said. “That and watching Cam (Newton) play. His plan was to graduate from Auburn, stay and work on his Masters and work for the team.”
Bagwell was on schedule to graduate with a degree in Health Promotion next August.
When it comes to Bagwell’s life, the enduring thread woven in and out of his all-too-brief time on this earth is Auburn University.
“It was Jesus first, Auburn second and studying third,” Joe D. Bagwell, his father, told t. “He wanted to make an impact at Auburn, whether as a water boy or assistant coach.”
Bagwell will be laid to rest Wednesday. The Times writes that, in lieu of flowers, the family requests gifts in memory of Joseph be made to the “Clicking for a Cause” fund at Huntsville Hospital Foundation, 101 Sivley Road, Huntsville, AL 35801.
(Photo credit: WAFF-48)