TAKE ON PIRATE SPORTS
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Pirate Nation lost a
fighter in Spencer Hampton
Former East Carolina
football player Spencer Hampton.
Photo: ECU SID
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Simply put, Spencer Hampton changed lives in a very short amount of
time. The former walk-on football player at East Carolina had a short
but valiant fight against Stage IV melanoma, a most aggressive cancer.
Hampton got the news after a doctor’s visit to see what was causing his
headaches and blurred vision. His visit to the doctor was about a month
before he was set to marry his high school sweetheart, Lindsay Styons.
I have been a friend with the Styons family since arriving in
Greenville. Raymie Styons is a former ECU baseball star who is now among
the top officials in the ACC and other leagues in basketball. He
actually sold me one of my first cars early in my career.
Raymie’s children and my children were similar in age. Mine were one
year younger than both Lindsay and Trey.
I first met Spencer covering him at D.H. Conley High School. He was a
standout on the football field, and he was a part of Conley’s 2005 state
championship team in baseball.
Spencer was a rock of a young man, but he was still told he was just too
small to play Division I college football. The challenge was set.
Despite the odds, Spencer walked on in the fall of 2006 with then East
Carolina coach Skip Holtz.
His highlights with the Pirate football program included a trip to play
in the 2007 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and be a part of that victory and his
role on ECU's Conference USA championship squad in 2008.
motto, “Against All Odds,” took on new meaning with his cancer
Still, Spencer Hampton went to work on once again overcoming everything
that was laid out in front of him.
Family and friends formed a Facebook page that now includes over 6,000
members. Lindsay’s brother Trey started writing a blog to keep everyone
updated on his fight.
Spencer and Lindsay were married on April 21st. It was a beautiful and
emotional ceremony, because all of us in attendance knew what Spencer
and Lindsay were facing.
The last time I saw Spencer was at the 2nd annual Coach Rock Golf
Classic, less than two weeks before his death. The tournament raises
money for cancer research at the Brody School of Medicine at East
Carolina University and the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. Coach Rock
Roggeman, who died of cancer himself in 2009, had worked with Spencer as
a part of ECU's defensive staff.
Lindsay was with Spencer that day at the Coach Rock Golf Classic,
working hard to make him as comfortable as possible.
In my days, I think I have witnessed the work of angels on earth on two
occasions. The first was Lynn LeClair, the wife of former ECU baseball
coach Keith LeClair. The work she did for Keith and her children during
Coach LeClair’s fight with ALS was nothing short of amazing.
The second angel I’ve seen in action was Lindsay Styons Hampton. Lindsay
decided from day one that this would be “their” fight, and she was with
her new husband through every agonizing step. Every time I asked about
how the couple was doing, the response I would get would be, ‘They are
holding up better than we are.’
I knew after our short visit that Spencer was struggling. He told Coach
Ruffin McNeill good luck in the upcoming season, and that he hoped he’d
be around to see the team play.
Spencer lost his bout with cancer in the early morning hours of June
29th. He would suffer no more.
I sat in the back of the chapel at Spencer’s funeral. When Lindsay
walked in, she took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, exhaled and
I don’t know if she was looking at Spencer, or God, or maybe both.
I do know she has a lifetime partner in sprit in Spencer. I also know
that Spencer’s fight brought an entire community together for his cause.
The poem that was read at the service ended like this:
Perhaps my life seemed all too brief;
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me.
God wanted me now, He set me free.
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07/10/2012 01:20 AM