He sat a handful of desks behind the front row, his white Apple headphones in, MacBook Pro open, and a Styrofoam container filled with food after morning practice.
This was the routine for Lache Seastrunk in our Family and Human Services course spring term. Three days a week, he would come in, sit in the same spot, and bring genuine emotion to a class that was based largely on family and core values.
At the most basic level, we discussed what the most important things in life are, and how we can positively influence others.
I took the course for an easy grade — don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed it — and learned a lot more about the people in the class than I did about the material that was being presented.
Lache was one of those people.
No matter how indirectly, I observed and listened to a lot of the things he had to say, and was not only impressed, but also taken back by the amount of emotion he was willing to show in a room filled with more than 150 of his peers.
He spoke frequently of his life growing up in Texas, and the hardships he faced living in an area where drug abuse and violence were societal norms. I suppose most people who enroll in an FHS course share similar backgrounds, and can relate to struggle in their own right. And from what I saw first hand, Lache was never shy to put everything out in the open and make himself vulnerable.
He spoke frequently of his grandmother, “Nana,” and the way she impacted his decision-making and life choices for the better. His passion for helping others was so incredibly genuine that it almost brought him to tears on multiple occasions, and more often than not the class would follow suit.
It’s days like those that make it hard for me to swallow everything that has come about with the Oregon athletic department and Willie Lyles over the past months. When and where are we ever going to get Lache’s side of the story? At what point to we stop dragging his name through the mud on the coattails of Lyles?
From what we’ve heard from the players, Lyles has been a standup guy and ready to help at a moment’s notice. Whether Lyles had his eye on something bigger isn’t the point here. It’s that these young men, who were sought after be some of the most prestigious football programs in the entire country, looked to Lyles during one of the most important times in their young adult lives.
If you turn on the television today, you’d think Lyles took LaMichael James’ math test for him, and forced Seastrunk’s mother’s hand to the paper and made her sign his letter of intent.
While I can’t speak to James’ situation, Seatrunk was going to have to make that move at some point along the way. His mother was dealing with her own demons, and Seastrunk had to call an audible.
It’s these little details that I wish were conveyed in all of this madness. I understand student-athlete availability is a joke this time of year, but the whole story needs to be out there. When I watched John Canzano continually bring up the argument of Lyles’ relationship with Seastrunk’s mother during his guest segment on College Football Live last week — a piece I was actually looking forward to — I couldn’t help but shake my head and turn away.
It’s safe to say he, or any of the other three on the panel that day, have never spoken a word to Lache, and that’s truly a shame.
There isn’t a doubt in my mind that if Lache’s side of this story were out in the open, this whole series of events would have been reported somewhat differently. I often wonder how much longer we’ll see Lache in an Oregon uniform (a tragedy considering the kid hasn’t played a single down of college football, yet), and how much more he is willing to put up with.
The Lache I saw outside of football and outside of the media was a person of exceptionally strong character with an undeniable emotion about him that I can only imagine inspires his coaches and teammates alike.
It’s my only hope that Lache gets through this and comes out with a positive outlook toward his future.
At this point, he’s owed that much.