The following is a commentary blog from FOX6 Sports Director Rick Karle:
Maybe it's because I'm in the midst of seeing my son learning to drive. Maybe it's because, like the Lutzenkirchens, I am the father of a son who has a younger sister. Maybe it's because as I get older, I know those in my life become more precious. Maybe it's all of the above.
I was preparing to write a blog today about how fleeting life can be, but Abby Lutzenkirchen has done it for me. Her open letter to family, friends and fans only days after losing her brother, Abby, a soccer player at the University of Alabama, has offered up what I can only describe as a one-of-a-kind tribute to Philip.
I hope you take time to give us your thoughts and feedback on the MyFoxAL Facebook page, and feel free to share Abby's letter with others. Have a safe holiday weekend!
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The following is an open letter from Abby Lutzenkirchen:
To everyone and anyone who knew my brother:
You always hear and see other people suffering from the death of a family member, but you never think it would happen to you. But, now at age 20, I am having to watch my closest loved ones mourn the death of my beautiful brother and my family's pride and joy.
No one ever gives you a handbook to guide you through the process of grieving and I have been experiencing that firsthand within the past few days. It is easy to be angry, to get mad and yell. It is easy to cry your eyes out and collapse to the floor. And it is especially easy to question everything that God has done in this life that we live. And while I am feeling all of these emotions, the easiest thing for me to do is to let anyone and everyone who knew, or has been touched by my brother:
Philip and I had a very special relationship being that I was his only little sister. He actually had me as "Baby Sister Abigail" in his phone. Philip was my hero: my knight in shining armor. He was iron man to me, and I made sure that everyone around me knew that I worshiped the ground that he walked on. What made our bond stronger within the past few years is the decision of me to play soccer at Alabama while he was still playing at Auburn. He never lets me forget that I chose to be a "Bammer" but made sure that he was ALWAYS my No. 1 fan, whether he was at my game or not.
However, Philip always said that I was the most athletic in the family -- which his friends would all affirm is a true statement (I promise I'm not making this up). Philip will never know how much that meant to me when he said that. But, it wasn't Philip's athletic accolades that made me look up to him: it was his smile. My brother's smile could light up a room. It was his charisma, his love for our dogs, his big bear hugs, and his playful way of picking on me. It was his unconditional love for his family. It was the little notes he would leave for me in my room whenever he came home. It was the way I could always count on him to watch a Disney movie with me. It was the way he danced with us in the car, and his silly Snapchats of him singing my favorite Usher songs.
Philip was like the typical over-protective big brother, scaring every (and any) boy that I even attempted to bring around my family. But, what Philip never knew was that I always looked for someone with the same qualities as him, and I will always continue to do that throughout the next stage in my life. There was no one better than that big lug of a brother I had. We never had a dull moment together. When Philip was around, our family never stopped laughing and we always felt so loved because Philip made sure he went above and beyond for us. Philip would have made the perfect husband, dad, and uncle -- and it pains my family that we will never get to experience the rest of our lives with one of our absolute favorite people. I am forever grateful for being born into this amazing family and by having someone as amazing as Philip to look up to.
Philip was larger than life and seeing how this community had reached out to us in his passing has just reassured my family that Philip was a true and genuine man. He loved his friends like family, and they have become family to us. We hope that this family bond we have created with you all will never go away. I am blessed to know that even though my big brother is gone, I still have big brothers all around me through his friends.
Philip let God shine through every single move he made whether it was scoring touchdowns, walking on campus, attending FCA, or his frequent tweeting brigades that thousands of people saw. I cannot express the love he had for every single Auburn fan he met, and for all the amazing people who helped him along the way. Philip always told me that "football was what he did, but it wasn't who he was." If I can be half of the person and Christian that my brother was, I know that I will live a life that he would be proud of.
I know this letter isn't much, and I haven't even written a smidge of the things that I want to say about Philip, but I just wanted to thank each and every single person who has reached out to our family in these past days. We are going to need the prayers and support from you all now more than ever. We are so incredibly touched by the stories we have heard about Philip, and are humbled by the impact Philip has made on so many of you all's lives.
War Eagle. Forever 43. Forever my big brother.