In the song " The Message", there is a line that says: "A child is born with no state of mind, blind to the ways of mankind." That is true in all of us. When we are born we are indeed blind to what is in store for us growing up. We go through each day not knowing what to expect. Each day is new and exciting to us because as kids the day is fun. Hanging out with our friends, playing ball, walking around town, riding in cars. Just plain and simple youthful fun. But we all have that one person who we all remember that was either the friend we all wanted to be like or the friend we wish would get their act together and wake up to the real world. Then there is the story of Brian Piccolo. A member of the Chicago Bears back in 60's who died at a young age and never really began to experience life. But his story didn't focus on how he died. It focused on how he lived. And this is the story of Troy L. Carter.
There are those who can say they have never met Troy. And if you didn't know him you missed out. Troy was one of a kind. He could be intense, or he could be fun loving and playful. Troy could explode at any given time given the situation, or he could be as calm as the river flow. There were many sides to this extraordinary man, side that we all seen and experienced. But that was Troy. You either loved him or hated him, and I haven't met not one person who didn't like him. If he liked you he told you, if he didn't he told you. To me he was a very honest person. Some may disagree but that is their opinion. His sense of humor, well, was odd at times because you never knew what he was gonna say. Troy kept people guessing, wondering what he was going to do or say next. But that was Troy. We loved him for who he was.
Troy was a talented athlete. He had a drive about him. As Tom Grafton descibes of his son,"Troy was determined to be the best, to be better than everyone else, like he had a chip on his shoulder." But he was also an overachiever too. Troy had good grades throughout his academic career, having graduating 8th in his class back in 1986.But it was in the realm of sports that you would see the magic of Troy. Whether it was football, basketball or baseball, he would perform his magic, and it was also where that pesky chip on his shoulder would come into play. " When he would make a mistake on the field of play or on the court you would see it on his face and in his emotions," says Tom. " He would let you know if you did good or if you did bad, and if you didn't play to his level or think you wasn't put forth the effort, he was on you." But if there was one sport that would bring out the best in Troy it would be baseball. According to Tom, four to five colleges were looking at Troy in baseball. " There were people and scouts at the door trying to sign him, and that was when he was just 17 years old." Troy also played Legion baseball as well too where he achieved high praise there as well. But it was football that got him into college, a full ride to Youngstown State University playing under current Ohio State University coach Jim Tressel. Troy Graduated from YSU in 1991.
But I am sure if you was to ask Troy who helped him get to where he was at that time in the sports world, he would say his family and friends. Without them his success would not have be at the level to which he had attained. "Family", to which Tom remembers, " was his biggest supporters. He set the standard not only for his brothers and sister but for his cousins as well. The grades, attitude, everything. And as for his friends, Troy had a great deal of friends, a grood group of friends. He was a leader and had a great camaraderie with them. But if you wasn't as dedicated as he was he didn't want you around. That is what I remember about Troy the most." But he also kept everyone at a distance as well. To reach the goals to which the he wanted to attain he refrained from going to out with friends at a regular basis, didn't smoke nor drink and didn't get into any kind of trouble. Troy felt that any of that would get in his way and wanted to remain focused. In other wards, Troy was grounded, not in the sense of being in trouble grounded, but in the way of being focused on the eye on the prized grounded.
He also had goals, goals to which some he did achieve and some he didn't, which wasn't by choice. Graduated from high school and from college. Wanted to have a good paying job. But the one thing that Troy did do and was his biggest and greatest accomplishment was his son. Troy fathered a child while he was going to YSU. That child is now at Ohio State University. But the saddest part of it all was his son never got to know his dad. If he were to come to Wellsville and ask people what was his dad like, he would hear nothing but the best stories on how his dad was. How Troy tried his best to make others better at what they were doing. How he would support you, even if he knew that you couldn't get to where you needed to be, his support was always there.
When asking about some of Troys biggest and best games, Tom told me the one he thinks that stood out for Troy was one against Beaver Local in football. The Beavers were getting beat really bad and the name calling started to emerge from the Beaver Local players, and most of the names called was being directed at him and his brother Jon, Troys favorite receiving target. So that would be one of the games that really stood out for him. The other game as a one of the worst for him. It was an overtime loss to Cadiz. That game stuck with him. Just like everyone else, Troy hated to lose. Even though there were other loses, that was the one that really stuck with him.
I'm pretty sure that there are alot of people who have good memories of Troy, and I bet that they are all good memories. I can not personally pick out just one, I have alot. One thing that I used to do with Troy was trade cassette tapes and we would record off of each other. We would do this all the time, and to this day, I still have one cassette that I recorded from Troy. It is Anita Baker. One of the songs in particular is called "Rapture". I also remember Troy running track for The Modern Striders Track Club. I always thought that track would be his sport because he was fast, but it wasn't until later on that I realized that track wasn't the sport. I realized later that football and baseball were the sports that he excelled in, from playing Jr. Tiger Ball to high school football, and minor league, high school, and Legion baseball. There wasn't a time during the year that you did not see his name in the paper or on the news. He didn't need to be the highest passer, making assists, or leading point maker on the team, it is what he contributed on his field of battle. That is what I remember about Troy. I put out a call on a social networking service for stories on Troy, and only received one. It had nothing to do with sports, it dealt with his character and how he treated people.
Former classmate Tonya Brathwaite, Wellsville Class of 1986 from shared this story with me:
Damn, ya never know how much you miss someone. I went all through school with Troy..K-12. He usually hung out after school with the Garfield kids but we would walk to and from school together when we were little. My family was very prejudiced and certain words were used as an every day part of speaking...like table, lamp, and door. So naturally, I didn't know that there were negative connotations to "the N word". We were walking home from school one day in Kindergarten or 1st grade, I don't remember, but we were talking about something and I must have said it. Because it didn't matter that we were friends because Troy whupped my little ass right on the corner of 10th and Center St., right by where Stephanie Winland used to live in that duplex. It was that day when I went home and asked my mom why he was so mad, that I finally learned that some words can hurt people just by being spoken. We stayed friends, and as anyone who was really friends with Troy knows, he was very sweet underneath all that Carter bluster. But that day was the day that I think I started to think for myself in terms of race...I couldn't understand why people didn't like other people because of their skin color. Still don't. There are millions of memories of Troy, but this one always stands out to me. '
That was just one story about Troy, and I am sure there are many more. Though he was angered at such an early age, he also show compassion and forgiveness as well. Sometimes we just don't know about a person till we actually meet them. We tend to judge them on site, from things we hear, but do don't get to really know that person until there is an actual conversation with that person. I bet there was alot of people who took one look at Troy and thought that of him. But when they actually got to know him there perception of him changed. Which leads me back to Brian Piccolo. Yeah, he was abit odd at times but when his friend needed him , he was there. The death of Piccolo hit not only his friend but his team as well. The same goes for Troy. But I am not going to talk or dwell on his death. But I rather talk about his life and the way he lived it. He lived on his own terms and did things his way because he was on a mission. A mission not only to succeed in life but to talk life by the horns and hold on to it and show everyone that this is how you do it and if I can do it, so can you. I really doubt that there will ever be a movie about Troy. We don't need to see a life story about him put on a Hollywood screen. But it would be oh so wonderful if it happened. People would be leaving the theaters with tears in their eyes, Not crying because of how Troy died. They would be crying on how he lived. Oh, how Troy lived.
Sometimes we tend to take life for granted. Thinking that we will live a long and fruitful life is really misleading. But it is sometimes the life that we lead is our downfall. Our time on this earth is very limited so we better not waste it. Even if we live to be in the 70's, 80's, or 90's, that is still a short time here on earth. When someone young passes we consider that too soon. It is. But we need not question why. We have to accept it. What we need to do is cherish the life and times that we have shared with our loved one and never forget. Hold on to what we have in our memories and never let go. One day, when it happens to us, we will want those we have left behind to want to remember us for who we are and what we meant to them. They will never forget us. We will be forever implanted in their minds and in there hearts. Death. It comes, it goes. And so will we.