The Hilinski family penned a heartfelt note to thank Cougar nation for its support after the death of their son, Tyler.
The sudden death of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski in January left his family and teammates reeling. But Hilinski’s suicide sparked an outpouring of support for the Hilinski family from Cougars fans all over the state, and the beginnings of a dialogue about suicide in young males.
The Hilinskis were touched by it all. So touched that they took out a half-page display ad in The Seattle Times on Sunday to thank Coug nation for its support. The ad also ran Sunday in the Yakima Herald-Republic and Friday in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin.
The ad consisted of a letter penned by the Hilinski family to Coug fans.
Here’s what it said:
Our Dearest Cougs and Football Families:
From the bottom of our broken hearts, I am writing today to thank you all for your outpouring of love and support, words of kindness and encouragement, and most of all, the amazing amount of love you’ve shown for our son Tyler. From the spring games to the fall scrimmages and camps and the games every weekend. In class and around town. He was touched by all of you … and so are we.
Please accept this note as a very small thank you on behalf of the entire Hilinski family for every text, email, card, flower, prayer, poem and dollars raised in support of keeping Tyler’s memory alive. It is important to us that we tell you how much this means to us and will continue to help support us in the darkest days ahead. Let them never stop.
Most of you probably never got to know all the little things about Tyler that touched so many people, but I suspect you must have seen a few. … His sense of humor, his gentle nature and his ferocious loyalty, his fearless play and his love for his team. He loved his family and he loved being a Cougar. That was Tyler. He came to Pullman to go to join a bigger family. He was adopted by you; he was loved down in Lewiston and up in Spokane and out to Seattle. … and even on the road. … Pullman was his new home. He wanted to make his Cougs everywhere proud.
However brief his time was with us, he made the most of it. Our “comeback kid” always expected good things to happen. He believed in you and the power of “Go Cougs.” There was always enough time on the clock to make one more play. He wanted us all to be happy and good to each other. We were so proud of the man he was becoming. Far from perfect, but as close to trying as they come. He was so excited to show you that this year.
I wish I could tell you what happened. The reality is we simply don’t know. He didn’t quit. He didn’t give up on you. For some reason, he had no choice but to leave us. Don’t waste a second thinking he was weak. People leave for many reasons. We will spend a lifetime trying to understand this. Don’t be mad or angry; he didn’t do this to you or to us. He was not well in a way not one of us knew. He fought bravely. … but ultimately, he lost alone. AS we continue to work through this, if we find more information that would be helpful to anyone else, we will share that with you.
If you pray, please save your most sincere prayers for Tyler and for our family. We need them all. We also ask that you please don’t forget him. Remember the best of him and how he wanted to please everyone. Forgive him for his mistakes, and if you do anything, send your love and best wishes to anyone that needs you to do that. Reconnect with someone who needs you, or who you need or love. Remember to take care of each other.
Tyler was our guy. But he was so excited to be your guy, too. Support his team and his Coug family, win or lose, with your best sportsmanship and class as you’ve always done. It would mean the world to us if you would never forget our very special #3.
Thank you for all the amazing memories and kindness you have shown during this impossible time. Tyler was simply AWESOME.
Your Cougars Family Forever. Go Cougs!
The Hilinski Family | Hilinski’s Hope 3
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To honor Tyler’s memory, the Hilinskis are also working to set up a non-profit foundation called Hilinski’s Hope that will promote awareness and education of mental health and wellness for student-athletes.
Jill Osur-Myers, the mother of WSU offensive lineman Noah Osur-Myers, is working with the Hilinskis to get non-profit status for Hilinski’s Hope. She said the foundation hopes to start out by promoting best practices in mental wellness and performance coaching.
Many others have also adopted different ways to honor Tyler.
While making the rounds on the pre-draft circuit from the Senior Bowl to the NFL Scouting Combine, WSU quarterback Luke Falk has been vocal about the need for better resources and dialogue around mental health and suicide presentation in young males.
Ryan Hilinski, Tyler’s younger brother, is a highly-touted 2019 quarterback recruit with multiple scholarship offers. He announced last week that he will wear his brother’s No. 3 jersey for the remainder of his football career.