ATLANTA — Atlanta Falcons defensive line coach Bryant Young often thinks about the joyful times he had with his son Colby, a kid who had a passion for football and a knack for cooking.
He also remembers the sadness that overwhelmed him when he uttered his last words to his teenage superhero.
“I told him just how much I appreciated his courage and his resilience,” Young said as his voice cracked. “And I told him I love him. I told him how much I was proud of him, for the young man to go through something like that.”
Bryant Colby Young died of pediatric cancer at age 15 on Oct. 11, 2016. Bryant Young knew every day without his son would be difficult, but especially days such as Colby’s birthday on Aug. 19 and the anniversary of Colby’s death.
“Every day has its own challenge,” Young said, “but when you’re going through the first of everything — the first birthday, the first year of him passing — and actually the day before, too, just anticipating what the day would be like. I definitely always want to remember him in a special way.”
Colby was known as a delightful, vibrant young man. His family never imagined a day of throbbing pain would result in sorrow for years to come.
It was 2014, and Colby was an eighth-grader playing football in Charlotte, North Carolina. He came home one day complaining of a headache.
Young, a Hall of Fame nominee who played 14 seasons on the San Francisco 49ers‘ defensive line, figured he knew what the issue was with his son.
“I thought he got dinged,” Young said. “But he was like, ‘No dad, I didn’t get dinged.'”
Young saw that something was off when Colby woke up on a Wednesday morning in excruciating pain with no desire to eat. There was a middle school retreat the same day, one Colby eagerly packed for the night before, but the pain drained him of his enthusiasm. He couldn’t sit up at the dining room…