BEAUMONT, Texas - Family, faith and country music - that's what comes to mind for many when they describe Blain Padgett.
His childhood best friend Luke Thomas said, "He lived life to the fullest, every day. That's why he went early. He lived more than anyone else. He had unspoken courage."
He followed in his father's footsteps, playing collegiate football. But he had a lot of people who wanted to follow him simply by the way he lived his life.
He had an extended "small town family" in his hometown of Sour Lake near Beaumont.
His second grade teacher Meredith Love said, "I feel like all of Beaumont was here and I know many people came from lots of places, lots of old faces that have moved away. There's nothing you can say except he was an amazing kid."
Even his former school custodian Gene Scott remembers the impact he had in the halls.
"It's a big loss. He was one of our favorites. Truly love his family and all," Scott said.
His football family extended to Houston when he enrolled at Rice.
Teammate JT Granato said, "He loved his teammates and he loved his friends. I knew he always had my back on and off the field, always, no matter what. That's a great teammate. If you were a teammate of Blain's please stand up. That's a lot of people."
The crowd immediately erupted in applause as teammates from the many teams he's played on stood up.
Rice defensive line coach Frank Okam said it wasn't football, though, that defined Padgett.
"I looked at what Blain did and one of the things is he lived his life with purpose," Okam said. "It's human nature to go through the motions. We don't have that natural grit. For Blain, it was something that almost became second nature."
He lived just 21 years but with great purpose. Rev. Robert Besser with Wesley United Methodist Church in Beaumont said, "His purpose physically is over but his love, his desire for our life, does not die."
A scholarship fund has been started in Padgett's name at Wesley United Methodist Church on North Major Drive in Beaumont.
If you'd like to contribute, you can send donations to:
Blain Padgett Scholarship Fund
c/o Wesley United Methodist Church
3810 North Major Drive
Beaumont, Texas 77713
You can also find more information about the fund here.
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