As the Indianapolis Colts gather for minicamps and summer school sessions, many people are focusing on the fact that one player, Edgerrin James, is missing from the current mandatory minicamp.
But one other player is missing and has been for over five years now -- offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth out of the University of Arkansas.
Six years ago on April 28th, Brandon was involved in a tragic accident shortly after attending his first Colts minicamp. A foundation was set up in his name by his brother Marty, and their good work continues to touch the lives of of underprivileged children. It was Brandon's dream to take some of the riches provided from an NFL contract to help children who were less fortunate. Marty is making Brandon's dream a reality.
One year after Brandon's death, I published an article called "Never Forget." Five years later, ColtPower still hasn't forgotten him. On behalf of the great fans at ColtPower.com, I've sent a check in the amount of $100 to the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation to show Colts fans' continued commitment to Brandon and "Burls' Kids."
You can read more about the great work of the foundation at www.brandonburlsworth.org.
The original article I wrote is below. It will remind you of the tremendous talent the Colts lost, and wonderful human being that this world lost on April 28th, 1999.
A second-team All-America guard out of Arkansas and the Colts' third round pick in the 1999 draft, Brandon was a gifted student-athlete thanks to his own work ethic.
His black, horn-rimmed glasses and his similar physical appearance to comedian Drew Carey had gained the media's attention almost as much as his outstanding results on the gridiron while in Arkansas. Despite all the attention, Brandon kept his focus and his feet firmly planted on the ground.
"He hasn't changed much. A big social night is still getting his tires rotated at Sears," said Burlsworth's high school coach Tommy Tice. "You ain't going to find him anywhere he's not supposed to be."
As the media learned more about him, Burlsworth became their darling because behind the physical appearance and football prowess was a Southeast Conference academic honor roll student with a master's degree in business administration.
And he was humble, yet confident. How do you beat that combination?
"I heard a lot of 'Hey, Drew Carey,' or 'Hey, Clark Kent'," said Brandon. "They don't keep laughing for very long."
Brandon got a glimpse of the NFL career that he had hoped for when he participated in the Colts' three-day mini-camp. It was apparent to Colts offensive line coach Howard Mudd that Brandon was a legitimate contender for a starting role on the Colts' offensive line. After the mini-camp broke up, Brandon returned to Harrison, Arkansas, a community of 11,000 people that was home for this former University of Arkansas Razorback. But Brandon kept working out in preparation for his return to Indianapolis on May 16th.
But at approximately 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28th, Brandon was on his way home from the University of Arkansas so that he could meet his family for dinner and to go to church with them.
But he never made it home. His car collided with a tractor trailer, and the brilliant light of his life on this earth vanished.
Although he was just 22 years old, Brandon Burlsworth left a legacy behind that people still marvel about and admire. His spirit lives on, his light still evident to those who "never forget" this remarkable young man.
Brandon had planned to use a portion of his NFL income to help children and children's charities -- so his family has established The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation to ensure that the good work that he had hoped to accomplish still comes to fruition.
Although you may have generously donated to the foundation last year, please consider reaching out again so that Brandon's memory is not forgotten. The amount of your gift is of less consequence than the gesture of giving itself. For by making a donation to his memory, you will honor this young man that we all wish we had gotten to know better.
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