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KEVIN SULLIVAN, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Former Crean Lutheran football player Garrett Cox died last week.

Garrett Cox remembered by former Crean Lutheran teammates as 'uniter'

STAFF WRITERS

In a eulogy at Friends Christian Church in Yorba Linda, Chaz Hornick remembered his best friend Garrett Cox as someone “lovable and loving.”

“He had the ability to unite, whether it was his team or his family,” said Hornick, who attended Servite High School with Cox.

Cox, 18, died June 24 at 1:55 a.m. when he was hit by a vehicle near the 17th Street on-ramp off of the 55 Freeway in Santa Ana, according to police.

The Tustin resident was an All-CIF player last year for Crean Lutheran, where he transferred his sophomore year.

Hundreds of friends and family members – including about 40 of Cox’s former teammates, seated together sporting gold jerseys – filled the pews Friday to share both grief and fond memories.

Attendees were given black wristbands imprinted with the words “Do It For the Memories” – a philosophy Cox espoused.

Just two weeks before, Cox donned a cap and gown for his graduation. He planned to enroll in classes at Santiago Canyon College in the fall.

His aunt Dee Dee Heath read a statement on behalf of parents Roy and Desiree Cox, recalling their son’s generosity and sense of humor.

“A few weeks ago, he bought a $5 million lottery scratcher and said, ‘Here, Mom. If I win, I’ll keep $500 and you keep the rest,’” Heath said.

The 6-foot running back/linebacker was named the Academy League’s defensive player of the year, helping the Saints reach the semifinal round of the CIF-Southern Section East Valley Division playoffs for the first time in school history.

Cox’s youth football career included two trips to the Pop Warner Super Bowl in Florida with his teammates in the Canyon Hills youth football program.

He capped his career with a stellar high school senior season. Cox rushed for 1,351 yards with 123 receiving yards and 18 touchdowns his senior year.

“He was one of my favorites,” former Crean Lutheran coach Brett Mertens, now the coach at Montrose High in Montrose, Colo., said in an interview. “The kid was an animal on the field but he could light up a room.

“It’s hard to lose a kid, no matter who it is. But this will affect everybody on the team, all the way down to all the freshmen, because everybody loved Garrett.”

Crean Lutheran’s new head football coach, Matt Bowman, who has worked at the school for eight years, last saw Cox at graduation.

“He was really excited to be graduating and he seemed very enthusiastic and very upbeat,” Bowman said.

Teammates were devastated by news of Cox’s death, Bowman said.

“He seemed like Superman to our players. For his passing to be so sudden at such a young age was a very sobering thing for our kids,” he said. “They can all reflect on their own mortality and realize this could happen to them, too.”

Cox did not intend to play football any longer, his father said in a recent interview.

“He was pretty beat up,” Roy Cox said. “His heart and mind wanted to but I told him it probably wasn’t a good idea.”

In addition to his parents, Garrett Cox is survived by his brothers Preston and Blake and his sister Brittney.

Contact the writer: sgoulding@ocregister.com


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