The Utah Utes recently lost one of their most talented players in the year of his death. He was a leader on and off the field, and his legacy will live on forever.
MESQUITE, TX (KTRK) — Aaron Lowe, a former Utah football player, was honored for his compassion, bright grin, and “infectious optimism” during a funeral ceremony in his hometown on Monday.
Lowe, a sophomore cornerback, was shot and murdered at a party in Salt Lake City on Sept. 26.
President Taylor Randall, athletic director Mark Harlan, coach Kyle Whittingham, and the Utah football team traveled to Dallas to honor Lowe, who was laid out in his full Utes jersey in an open coffin with a big Utah U behind him and his No. 22 uniform on each side. The coffin was closed and his white Utah helmet was put on a pedestal in front of it before the ceremony began.
Sharrieff Shah, Lowe’s position coach, claimed Lowe had utilized “infectious optimism” to work hard to become an honor roll student and develop as a player, assuring him often, “Coach, I’ll be better.” Now that Lowe is no longer with us, it’s a phrase that has stayed with him.
“Don’t simply improve,” Shah said. “Make a 22 percent improvement. Tell your mother you love her two more times if you’ve already told her ten times. Do two additional repetitions if you’ve already completed ten.”
In the aftermath of two tragedies, the Utah team has embraced the slogan. After Saturday night’s 42-26 win against USC, Whittingham donned a shirt with the phrase on it.
Lowe was a high school teammate of Utah running back Ty Jordan, who died in December after an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound. To commemorate Jordan, Lowe changed his number from 2 to 22. Lowe was the inaugural winner of the Ty Jordan Memorial Scholarship, which was decided by the team in August.
Whittingham expressed his admiration for Lowe, describing him as a unique individual.
“He lived his life with clear eyes and a big heart,” Whittingham said, alluding to Lowe’s Texas origins with a quote from “Friday Night Lights.”
Whittingham said that a scholarship fund had been created in Lowe’s honor, and he was honored to be the first donor.
He stated of Lowe’s death, “We won’t get over it, but we will get through it.”
Ja’Quinden Jackson, the Utah quarterback, talked with Lowe’s mother, Donna Lowe-Stern, and the rest of the family, stating “For you, I’ll be 22 percent better. Because he is unable to do so, I will. He’ll be able to live on via me.”
Cornerback To laughs from the crowd, LaCarea Pleasant-Johnson recalled the first time he went into his dorm room and saw Lowe, his first roommate at Utah, asking “what’s up with this guy, cheesin’, smiling away?” Before turning to Lowe’s family, he stated Lowe became a big brother to him and thanked Whittington for recruiting him so that the team could spend what little time they had with him.
“It was certainly Aaron’s victory versus SC,” he added.
Family and friends expressed their grief and disbelief at the news.
Buk M. Buk, an uninvited guest at the party, was arrested and charged with aggravated murder, attempted murder, and felony discharge of a firearm by Salt Lake City police. Buk, 22, is also suspected of shooting a 20-year-old woman during the same event, according to police. She is still in serious condition, according to reports.
During a vigil on Sept. 29, Utah President Gary Randall said the university lighted the U on the hill above campus in honor of Lowe.
He said, “We lighted the light because Donna told me Aaron was a light.” “That light will be me. We all have the ability to be that light.”