Tevin Lucas, the second son of Walt and Kathy Lucas, grew up in the Northwest. He has an older brother, Justin and two younger sisters Rachel and Danielle. His early years were spent with a full-time stay at home mom in the small rural town of Puyallup, Washington. His dad travelled a lot as a successful audio engineer and life was full of sports and social activities with family and friends. Tevin and his siblings were all tremendous athletes and great students and Walt coached all of them at one time or another.
Tevin was faced with challenges that many younger children do not have to experience. When he was eleven his father faced a serious health crisis and was near death. His father who had coached him in every sport and been the main provider for the family was rushed by ambulance to the hospital and had to have emergency open heart surgery. He had six major blockages and miraculously survived. The surgery was successful but the impact on the family emotionally and economically was disastrous as Tevin’s father lost his business and his health continued to decline as a severe lung issue was also exacerbated.
Tevin and his siblings’ lives were changed forever. In the months following his father’s surgery Tevin’s mother worked three jobs to support the family. Tevin and his older brother had to care for their father and their two younger siblings. It was challenging for everyone as the family dynamic was never the same.
While the family was struggling to work through this challenge, Tevin’s older brother Justin was faced with his own health issues. A successful athlete, he sustained multiple concussions in one year that culminated in severe post-concussion syndrome. He was out of school for over a year while the family tried to find help for their oldest son who had severe round the clock headaches, cognitive processing issues and memory problems, all leading to severe depression.
With both of Tevin’s strong male role models struggling so significantly, Tevin became the man of the house and took on a lot of responsibility to help his mom. Justin’s traumatic brain injury affected everyone, but no one was affected more than Tevin. It was Tevin’s first year of high school, he was attending Bellarmine Prep on Scholarship, had a very demanding academic schedule, and was a stand- out athlete in football and basketball. Justin was hurting and jealous as he was unable to participate in sports or school and unfortunately took his anger out on Tevin.
Within this year Tevin also lost his maternal grandparents and his favorite uncle. With his mom hurting, his Dad facing a terminal health crisis, his brother still reeling and no resolution to his issues, the family was in turmoil.
A few months later his family made the bold decision to relocate in search of new health options for his father. The family left their home of twenty years, their family and friends and headed to Colorado where the leading center for Lung Disease existed. It was a difficult time for Tevin as he had sustained a severe concussion and optic nerve damage playing basketball that took him out of school and sports. Strangely, he was experiencing the symptoms that Justin had lived with for over a year. Even though it gave him greater understanding of his brother’s difficulties he felt alone and scared as his mother had moved ahead of the family to secure a home and employment. Tevin experienced major depression for the first time and even thoughts of suicide. He felt a heavy burden on him. He didn’t want to move and leave his school, friends and everything familiar, but knew that his father was considered terminal and this was the only possibility of extending his life.
Colorado presented a different environment to everyone. The elevation caused his dad to need full-time oxygen and his health continued to decline. The school was much smaller and the sports programs much less challenging. Tevin excelled in every way but was very disappointed in the level of competition and the limited opportunities for exposure to recruiters. It was a very difficult transition for Tevin, but he remained supportive and became a great role model at school and for his sisters.
Tevin was voted the athlete of the year at Clear Creek and excelled at basketball, football and track. The basketball team won the Frontier League Championship for the first time in twenty years when Tevin and Justin played together. He was in the local paper on a weekly basis, but he still longed for home back in Washington. He sustained many injuries during his career there, as he was consistently targeted in basketball and football. He had a passion and love for the game and knew if he wanted to play at the collegiate level he would need to play for a bigger school. Although Tevin was at one point ranked 7th in the nation his junior year, he had suffered a spine injury and had to restart the recruiting process. To pursue his dream of playing football in college and be closer to their home to care for his father, Tevin transferred his senior year to Lakewood High School. His senior year was difficult, as he now missed his friends from Clear Creek and the football team really struggled and Tevin played much of the season with a cast on his wrist, missing several games. He still managed to be recruited by Augustana University in South Dakota.
Tevin left for college with a heavy heart as his dad had been accepted for a lung transplant but had to pursue the surgery by living in California as UCLA Medical was the only facility willing to offer the surgery to such a high risk patient. . Tevin felt a great responsibility to help take care of his mother and sisters, as he had always been there for them. His mother, however, knew Tevin needed to embrace this opportunity and needed some distance from the difficulties and stress of his dad’s illness.
College was a positive change and football was particularly challenging. He was disappointed to be asked to red shirt and continued to have injuries. He had to have ankle surgery and lost out on opportunities on the field. He struggled emotionally as no one was even able to be with him for his surgery, which coincidentally happened on his nineteenth birthday, as his parents were in California. His father, after living away from home for six months finally had his life-saving lung transplant the preceding month but was hospitalized again with a life-threatening infection, MRSA.
The family was separated throughout the holidays as Tevin’s father continued to battle his infection. Tevin again was fighting depression as his recovery was slow and he worried constantly about his family. Tevin felt that he wanted a change from the harsh winters of South Dakota and was pursuing other football opportunities, as his desire was to play for a D-1 school. He had interest and scholarships from several Universities and was especially excited about transferring to play in San Diego.
He was working hard to re-hab from his ankle injury and trying to stay focused on school, all while worrying about his dad who finally had been released to come home but was continually in the hospital while the MRSA infection continued to threaten his life. He was looking forward to heading home for a visit, when life unexpected happened. While running a route at football practice his first day back he sustained the worst injury he had ever experienced. He felt the most excruciating pain as his knee was literally torn apart. He had torn his ACL, LCL, meniscus and suffered crucial nerve damage. The injury he experienced was more devastating than he realized at the time and is one of the worst knee injuries seen in College football. It would require surgery that could only be performed by a specialist in Vail, Colorado.
Tevin was forced to face the fact that his collegiate career was over. He did not know immediately how severe his injury was, but the following weeks revealed many disturbing facts, the main one that he could have permanent nerve damage in his leg. Letting go of his dream to play college football was very hard. Tevin has always been an athlete first. He had been in sports since the age of two and had always been a competitor. To think that this would not be a part of his life was a painful revelation. He struggled with his identity and again faced severe depression.
He endured the painful surgery, not knowing that it was only the beginning of the nightmare which ultimately lead to him almost losing his leg. He never imagined things could even be worse. He felt blessed to be in the hands of a brilliant surgeon, one that was in demand by Olympic and professional athletes. He knew the nerve damage was a problem but was confident that he would heal normally. No one anticipated the complications he experienced.
The night after his return home Tevin was in excruciating pain. He never slept and the next day was even worse. He could barely keep conscience and the swelling in his leg was extreme. Something was terribly wrong and he was rushed to the emergency room. He was in a grave state. He needed surgery as he was showing symptoms of compression syndrome. He was also severely anemic, and would need five blood transfusions to keep him breathing. He was literally in danger of losing his leg. There was no time to get him to Vail, the surgery would need to be done locally. Tevin and his mom both cried when they got the news. Strangely enough Tevin’s dad had also been in the hospital fighting his fourth bought with MRSA.
Tevin, in his usual way faced this time with humor. He joked through the tears, as he had an uncanny way of making his mom laugh even during the most difficult circumstances. He had always masked his pain and disappointment with an amazing attitude and faith. He lead his mom in prayer so many times during his hospitalization, because he knew somehow, in the midst of everything, he never lost Hope. He never doubted, but could not help wondering where his path was headed.
Thankfully the surgeon was able to save Tevin’s leg. He still has no feeling or movement in his foot and has to wear a prosthetic device to walk. He continues to hold out hope that the nerve will come back. He really misses sports and struggles to walk normally.
The beautiful part of this story is the transformation that Tevin has experienced through all of these very difficult challenges. He learned that there is Hope in every situation and truly believes that Love can change the world.