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Gopher Gary Tinsley: A Tragic End To An Inspiring Turnaround

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Such a sad story.  I had heard Friday of a University Of Minnesota student found dead in their apartment.  Then as the day went on and more information was made available, we all found out this student was starter on the Golden Gophers football team and was so very close to graduation.  Gary Tinsley was a great contributor to the football team, but far more important is he appeared to be a great young man who had put himself on the right track.  We won’t know what happened until the medical examiner releases their report, but I thought this story was a nice look at this young man.

In five weeks, the transformation would have been complete. Gary Tinsley, who arrived at the University of Minnesota as an immature kid with a love of football but not classrooms, was about to depart as a full-grown leader with a gold-leaf diploma.

“I think I became a better person” at Minnesota, the Gophers’ middle linebacker said last November. “I think I’ve come out on top.”

The university still plans to award Tinsley the degree that meant so much to him, a B.S. in business and marketing education, at spring commencement next month. But the diploma will be bestowed posthumously. Tinsley died in his Wilkins Hall dorm room on campus Friday morning. Paramedics were unable to revive the 22-year-old NFL hopeful after he was discovered by his roommate.

“He was a great brother, a great teammate, a great friend,” said Gophers quarterback MarQueis Gray, who had traded text messages with Tinsley on Thursday night. “I know he was a great son to his parents.”

Not a bad football player, either. He played with a controlled ferociousness, and over the past two seasons, no Gopher had more tackles or sacks than the Jacksonville, Fla., native, who started every game his junior and senior seasons at middle linebacker, barking out the defensive signals. He remained in Minneapolis after his eligibility ran out in November to prepare for a possible NFL career — though he wasn’t considered a likely draft prospect, he was confident of being invited to training camps — and to complete his degree in case that didn’t work out.

“He told me that the greatest moment of his life was going to be when his mother, Ronda, watched him in his cap and gown, graduating from the University of Minnesota,” said Tim Brewster, the former Gophers coach who convinced Tinsley to come play for a team 1,200 miles from home. “It was so important to him, and it just breaks my heart.”

Tinsley watched a movie with some teammates in his dorm room Thursday night, and went to bed shortly before midnight, posting a tweet to a friend on Twitter at 11:22. When his alarm rang Friday morning, fellow linebacker Keanon Cooper went to his room to investigate why Tinsley had not turned it off.

Read entire story via Gary Tinsley: A tragic end to an inspiring turnaround | StarTribune.com.

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