Many people will remember 11-year-old Troy Byrd for his skills on the basketball court, but Urbana Jr. High is introducing a new award to commemorate the sixth’s grader’s infectious smile.
Byrd collapsed on the basketball court at the Urbana YMCA in January — dying one day before his birthday. From all accounts, he was active and healthy.
On Thursday, one sixth grade girl and one sixth grade boy at the junior high received the first Troy Byrd Smiles Award, given to those who demonstrate positivity and a good attitude, especially in trying times.
“I just remember Troy as happy, I just want to keep him in my mind,” said award recipient, Avari Castle. “I don’t want to think about anything like he’s gone. I want to think he’s still here with me.”
Matthew Vactor II also received the award along with Castle.
Troy’s family was in attendance for the presentation of the award, wearing shirts for Troy that read, “Gone too soon” and “Your wings were ready but our hearts were not.”
Troy’s mom, Aukeisha Rogan said her mind was blown when the school approached her with the idea for the award about a month ago.
“This was his second home. This is his second family here,” Rogan said. “I cannot thank everybody enough.”
The award is the latest way that the community has chosen to honor the sixth grader.
Immediately after his death, several basketball teams around the area came up with their own way to celebrate Troy’s legacy — wearing his basketball number eight on their shoes, uniforms or wristbands.
Troy’s uncle, Tylynn Montrose had to fight to hold back tears after the ceremony — but he said they were happy tears.
“There’s nothing but joy that comes from that dude and for him to shine on somebody else — it was awesome,” he said. “Everybody just think of him every time you see a smile.”
Rogan said that the family will be working to take Troy’s story to the Ohio Statehouse.
They want to see legislative changes to physical examinations for kids and more comprehensive heart checks so that what happened to their family never has to happen to anyone else.
The award will be given out at the junior high at the end of every school year. Until next year, the award will be displayed in a glass case with — only appropriately, basketball trophies.
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