ENID, Oklahoma – Eight days after the tragic loss of 22-year-old Austin Box, family, friends and teammates gathered in Enid to pay their final respects.
Box, a standout young man and football player in his hometown of Enid as well as at the University of Oklahoma, was honored in many ways Friday not only through kind words in the memorable service, but through the sheer number of people who attended to honor his memory. Hundreds gathered to celebrate his life and the legacy he leaves with those close to him as well as thousands more.
"He was a beautiful young man and we will surely miss him," said Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops.
The Oklahoma football team was in attendance, taking charter buses from Norman to be present to remember and honor their brother, friend and teammate, who was taken so suddenly from them on May 19.
"More than anything else I think that Austin really embodied loyalty," said OU linebackers coach Brent Venables.
"When asked how things were going, he often said living the dream and that's pretty cool because you ask yourself how many people can really say that, and Austin did," said Venables."He was going to make sure he continued to live that dream and bring the calming presence to our defense."
"He was my left hand man in that meeting room and he still will be. There will be nobody in that seat but Austin's spirit," said Venables.
"He was a spark that set everybody else on fire," said Tom Cobble, Austin's high school coach and friend.
"I took a calculator out and began to estimate the people he had touched, the teammates, friends, elementary kids that he had touched in a great way and I began to take it out over another generation when those kids take it to their sons and daughters," said Cobble "It well became over 500,000 people that I just kind of knew about, that he influenced and I wonder which of those people are going to grow up to be great because of that spark Austin started with them."
"The greatest thing I can say about Austin Box is that he was a man who loved his family and his family loved him," said Wade Burleson the Senior Teaching Pastor at Emmanuel Baptist Church.
"Football is not life, it's a game; relationships and family, that's life," said Burleson. "Too often you get your accolades on the field, the truth is, you should get your accolades from your family."
"I know every time I get down or I want to call it quits, or give in a little bit, I'll crack a smile and laugh and I'll know Austin's in there watching over me, leading me and of course watching my back," said Matthew Athey, one of Austin's closest friends.
"We will have another time, there will be another time to come, as scripture says, for everything there is a time" said Stoops.
Although Austin is physically separated from this world, evidence of his spirit remain and will live on. Austin undoubtedly influenced more people that he will ever know. Because of that, the town of Enid, the University of Oklahoma and anyone who knew of, met or heard about Austin Box will never forget who he was and what he stood for.