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How LaVell Edwards always kept things in perspective

In 1979, LaVell Edwards and BYU football were on the cusp of their heyday and in the middle of a remarkable run of conference titles, national rankings and All-American quarterbacks, and I had a couple of years under my belt covering the Cougars as a fledging sports writer for the Provo Daily Herald.

LaVell's wife Patti wrote a column for our sports section once a week. In the profession I'd chosen, I hoped I could make my mark someday and worked hard doing everything I could, but the truth was I was nobody and my byline meant very little to anybody.

On Oct. 9, my second son, 2-year-old Jeff, was hit by a Utah Power and Light truck and killed in front of my mother-in-law's home on 1200 West in Orem, and my oldest son Brandon witnessed it all. This took place a few days before BYU played Utah State.

As my little family recoiled and tried to make sense of this loss, we were at the funeral home in Provo standing in front of the casket the night before Jeff's burial as friends and family shuffled by and offered condolences. I looked up and to my surprise there was LaVell Edwards and Patti next in line, dressed in their Sunday best, there to be supportive, mingling with our parents and siblings, and I was a little stunned. Surely during game week with an instate foe, he'd have had plenty of excuses to not add one more thing to his agenda that night. On the other hand, in his mind, and that of his wife, this was a priority.

A decade later, standing outside BYU's locker room at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, the University of Hawaii had just spoiled a day filled with BYU celebration over a Heisman Trophy for All-American and future Hall of Famer Ty Detmer. The Warriors had thumbed BYU good, humiliated the team. But standing outside that locker room, Edwards was calm and collected and had compartmentalized what had happened. He was prepared to move on with remarkable perspective.

If there's one thing that's stood out all these decades of watching Edwards up close and from afar, it was his perspective. He gets it. He controls it. It never controlled him.