January 25: A Titan To Remember
Julius Campbell, college football player (at a key moment in history).
Multiple organ dysfunction syndrome.
Have you seen that movie Remember The Titans, about a '70s high school football team overcoming racial animus? Well, weirdly enough, three different real people the movie was based on all died this year.
When high schools in Alexandria, Virginia integrated in 1971, juniors and seniors went to T.C. Williams, home of the Titans. That team went undefeated that year and won the state championship, in spite of all the strife going on surrounding the integration. Defensive lineman Julius Campbell was instrumental in bringing the team together and fostering acceptance between people who otherwise would have never spent time together.
You already know all of this if you've seen the movie, in which Campbell (played by Wood Harris, aka The Wire's Avon Barksdale) becomes pals with a white linebacker on the team, which paves the way for the team to build bonds across racial lines. In real life, Campbell's athletic career ended soon after due to an injury. He wound up working for the county animal control department, spending the last two decades of his life speaking publicly about his experiences during desegregation and knowing that in high school he did something cool enough to get turned into a Denzel Washington movie.
Then in May, defensive coach Bill Yoast (played by Will Patton) died at the age of 94. In December, Herman Boone (the head coach played by Washington) died at age 84.