4/20/2017 2:20:00 PM / John Gurtler
"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense." – Winston Churchill
Tucker Williams did not give in.
It was over three years ago when Shawn and Tamara learned that their son Tucker had more than just a common cold or the flu or a fever. The couple faced a terrible reality that their son's body had been invaded by cancer, and that life-changing circumstances would prevail.
Shawn's second family, the Bandits, were shocked to hear, read, and see of Tucker's prognosis and to learn how precious life can be when death looms.
From his initial group of nurses, hovering bedside, they witnessed a young boy filled with spirit, love, and determination, and without showing their deep emotions – they were heartbroken deep down – one whispered, "He is braver than brave."
Tucker lost his battle against Burkitt lymphoma on December 17, 2014.
I never got to know Tucker, but I have gotten to know his dad Shawn and every time he grips my hand in earnest and looks me straight in the eye, I feel the enthusiasm, determination and goodness from a man who expects you to feel the same.
Echoes of Tucker's laughs and screams of joy while playing games in the hallways of the arena. There are T-shirts tethered and faded but clearly embossed with the 'Braver Than Brave' quote. Sets of Bandit uniforms, designed by Tucker and his brother, Tyson, and friends, are packed away neatly but always in view to remember and celebrate life.
Shame on us who dip our heads in despair and seek pity because of situations we face of small circumstance compared to what Tucker faced in his challenge.
Had a bad game? Bad broadcast? Bad day? When you go face to face with Shawn Williams, you see a man who is genuinely interested in your well-being with a "you-can-do-better" attitude from his eyes.
There have been times from my greeting embrace with Shawn that I just want to cry for his loss. The root of hurt is still there, but Shawn would never let you breakdown.
This Saturday night inside KeyBank Center, the Bandits will celebrate the life of Tucker Williams under the emotional flag of Tucker Out Lymphoma Night, and in our hearts 'Braver than Brave.' Tucker's sister, Dylana, will sing the Canadian National Anthem.
If the Bandits needed anything else other than the spirit of Tucker on this night, then I challenge you to come forward.
Yes, a special night is ahead in honor of Tucker's memory, and also, one that will determine the direction of his Bandit team for the season.
Regardless of the strong weekends of past, and elements of the game beyond their control, the Bandits need to rally around the spirit of Tucker.
Trust has been a big word with this club, especially during the second half of this season.
It's time for the players solidify their trust in each other, and too, for the coaches to trust each and every player on the roster that they can do their job.
The clawback for the Bandits is massive but this team has heart and is highly emotional, sometimes to a fault.
Georgia awaits the rematch as they continue to master the rudiments of the box game with their talented team.
The Bandits are recoiling and preparing for the challenge.
Never give in. Never.
Radio broadcast coverage of the Bandits/Swarm game will be on ESPN 1520 AM and WGWE 105.9 FM in Salamanca.
Randy Mearns will join me in the booth as our pre-game show will start at 7 p.m., the game at 7:30.
Fans can take advantage of a special ticket offer here, with $2 from every sale to benefit pediatric cancer care.