BERKELEY -- In the front row, Sonny Dykes's head bowed. Freshman receiver Ray Hudson -- broken -- buried his face in his hands, cheeks streaked with tears. Linebacker Jalen Jefferson looked to be in physical pain, trying to hold back his. Several rows back, freshman kicker Matt Anderson openly wept, as the Black Campus Ministry Gospel Choir began singing Amazing Grace.
Well over 1,000 gathered under the shroud of the Berkeley mists on Wednesday night, just five days after the passing of California defensive lineman Ted Agu.
"When you're living life as big as Ted lived, you create a legacy that's even bigger," Dykes said. "He'll have an impact on us for the rest of our lives."
"I met Ted three years ago," said safety Avery Sebastian, as he took the mic in front of the crowd of well over 1,000 gathered on Lisa & Douglas Goldman Plaza. "We both crossed into Omega Psi Phi. I've met thousands people in my life, and no one was as influential as Ted was to me."
Those more than 1,000 included Cal athletes from all walks of life, well-wishers, members of the Berkeley and Cal communities, Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers, friends, family and teammates. As Dykes said, "You don't summarize a man like Ted with words. The only way you can do it, is with deeds."
Judging by the stream of individuals lining up to tell stories about Agu – from promising, as a freshman, that he would one day be a scholarship player, major in public health and work his way toward becoming a doctor, and fulfilling those promises, to showing up out of nowhere to rescue drunk friends who were literally stuck in trees, to counseling friends and teammates when they were at their lowest – those deeds were many, and their impact, profound.
"You knew when Ted walked in the room," said defensive back Stefan McClure. "He was smiling, and even him asking how you're doing would lift you up."
For well over two hours, those in attendance were lifted up by fond memories of Agu. Pre-Med Ted, as he was known by his teammates, was a renaissance man. Not only a public health major, not only a football player, Agu was also a piano player and the Keeper of Finance for Omega Psi Phi. The first thing mentioned in nearly every speech was his infectious smile.
"Everyone knew that Ted had some big dreams that he was going to achieve, and it's just sad to see that he was cut short from achieving them," McClure said. "He's just a unique individual. He had such a great smile, a smile that would just light up a room."
As the choir sung Stand By Me, photos and videos of Agu were projected onto the outer wall of California Memorial Stadium. There was Agu playing the piano. There was Agu, playing against Washington, tackling Cyler Miles, along with Jefferson. There he was, laughing, smiling, crossing into Omega Psi Phi. There he was. And, this fall, he will be there, again, on the outer wall of Memorial Stadium, as a banner that will be stretched up, over the entrance to the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame.
"The thing I heard in my conversations with the student-athletes, is not that ‘Ted was,' but that ‘Ted is.' That is, that Ted will always, forever influence us, for generations to come," said athletic directory Sandy Barbour, who opened the proceedings. "He will be a part of us, he will be a part of this community, he will be a part of the University of California, Berkeley, and certainly will impact everyone, just as he has, he will continue to impact everyone that crosses through these doors. That is Ted Agu."
MEMORIAL: An Even Bigger Legacy
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