Fractured Faith: Ty Towers, Part II
In February of 2014 Ty Towers, then star wide receiver for the Ouachita Baptist Tigers, lost his brother Zack to a head injury he’d incurred while playing football. A year later, Ty suffered a major injury of his own.
It was his knee, a much needed joint for a speedy athlete like Ty. It didn’t stop him, though. He went through an offseason’s worth of rehab, and despite the pain, despite the loss of his brother, he came back and played football for the Ouachita Baptist Tigers.
“While I was recovering, I got a tattoo on my chest to remind me of my brother,” Ty said. “I could always see it in the weight room mirrors. It gave me a little extra boost to finish that last rep.”
As I was interviewing him, it became obvious there was never any question of whether Ty would keep playing football. But I couldn’t help but wonder: Where does such grit come from?
Ty Towers was raised in Star City, a football town in southeast Arkansas. The place shuts down on Friday nights. Come game time, artificial smoke and fireworks fill the air as the boys run onto the field through a homemade “dog house.”
“It isn’t like one of those blow up things,” Towers said. “It’s something somebody went out there and built.”
Maybe the answer to Ty’s unwavering faith in football can be found in his hometown. Or maybe it’s his culture, his upbringing.
“Football was always just what the Towers boys did,” he said. “We were known for it. I felt like that’s the reason why I was here. It’d be a shame not to use my God-given ability.”
For Ty, the thought of not playing—despite the many hurdles the game had thrown at him—wasn’t even an option.
But what about the other people in Ty’s life? What about his father and his younger brother J.T.? What about his mom?
“My view on football hasn’t really changed since Zack’s accident,” said Christy Rasico, Ty, Zack, and J.T.’s mother. “It was such a freak thing, I just don’t believe that ‘football’ actually caused his problem.”
After last week’s article was published, Christy reached out to me. She was glad to hear her sons’ story was being told. She knew there was power in what happened to Zack and hoped maybe some good could come from it.
“I truly believe there was a reason God allowed it to happen on the football field,” she said. “The football field is a big showcase that touches many people.”
In other words, because of the location of Zack’s untimely death, his story gained traction. It brought attention to the safety issues surrounding America’s favorite game.
Things were different back in 2014. This was a full year before Will Smith starred in the movie Concussion, before “CTE” became a household term. But because of stories like Zack’s and Ty’s, we now have a much safer game, one the youngest Towers brother continues to play.
“J.T., my 17-year-old, 6’4” baby, is still playing and has just started his junior year in high school,” said Christy. “He is hoping to continue his football career in college as well.”
In March of 2017 J.T. was in an automobile accident involving an eighteen-wheeler. Ty got the call and rushed to the emergency room, just like he’d done when Zack was injured. J.T. had three fractured vertebras, a completely torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder, and a torn tendon in his right hand.
“The only thing J.T. kept saying was, ‘Man this sucks. It’s my throwing arm,” Ty said, recalling that night in the hospital. “So I told him, ‘Why don’t you just screw playing Q, and move to tight end?’”
Maybe it’s their history with football. Maybe it’s that southeast Arkansas, Star City culture. Maybe there’s just something in the water, especially if your last name is Towers. But one thing is for certain—this family believes in football.
“I prayed hard, and I still do, for God to cover my boys with his hand of protection,” Christy Rasico concluded. “But we never discussed them not playing football. That was never an option.”
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Photo provided by Christy Rasico.