OSKALOOSA, Iowa --Through song, prayer and love, nearly 3,000 people gathered to honor the death of former Iowa Hawkeye Tyler Sash at Oskaloosa's Community Stadium.
Pastor Rodney DeRonde said, "We are going to celebrate Tyler Sash's life. He meant a lot to us and that's why you are here."
It was a memorial many, like Zachery Powell, were still coming to grips with. "I'm kind of heartbroken that this happened so fast but overall he was a great guy so I came to show my respects today."
Throughout Tyler's life, the roar of the crowd offered approval of the athletic accomplishments he was so familiar with. Powell said, "I say he was a legend." Julie Stone from Oskaloosa said, "A great athlete and overall guy."
But it was his efforts outside the field of play that shined brighter than his flashes on it. Stone said, "My granddaughters would come home from school and say 'Tyler came to school, Tyler came to school.' They just thought it was so awesome. The kids loved him. He was always there to help with anything he could." Brian Bickel a football coach from Moravia said, "He did a football camp with us this past summer with teams in the Tri-County Conference. The kids just rallied around him. You could tell everyone was always rallying around him when he was back home."
Whether earning a football scholarship at the University of Iowa or winning a Super Bowl championship with the New York Giants, Tyler Sash never stopped being a son, brother, uncle or friend to many who gathered in the stands to cheer for him one last time. Stone said, "It was very sad. It was a hard time but Tyler has done a lot and it was sad somebody so young left this earth so early."
The state medical examiner performed an autopsy on Wednesday but it revealed no acute trauma. More tests are needed to determine a cause of death.