JOHN GRANATO

I miss Blain Padgett

I miss Blain Padgett
Blain Padgett was taken far too young. Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Last Friday former Rice football player Stuart Mouchantaf was arrested and charged with delivering a controlled substance which led to the death of Blain Padgett. They played on the defensive line together in 2015 when Blain was a freshman. It’s a second degree felony. Mouchantaf faces anywhere from two to twenty years in prison.

The Padgetts face every day without their son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin.

The rest of us do too.

In case you don’t know, Mouchantaf allegedly sold Blain what Blain thought was hydrocodone. One pill wasn’t. It was the equivalent of an elephant tranquilizer. Blain took it and died in his sleep hours later.

Your initial reaction may be that he shouldn’t have taken any illegal drug and you would be right. But this wasn’t for party purposes. It was for pain. He was recovering from surgery.

He was finally cleared to resume full football activity. He was excited to work out the next morning. He talked to his mom and dad for about an hour and a half that night and went to bed.

I know all this because I was with Blain before he talked to his parents. He and my son JT lived together before JT transferred from Rice. My wife and I stopped by their house. We sat outside and talked about football, his new coach, his health, his workout, his parents.

He was going to be an NFL prospect. He was that good.

That that one mistake could end all that so quickly is incomprehensible. But it did. And it happens all too often in this country.

The numbers are staggering but that’s all they are until it’s someone you know and love that dies. Then it’s real.

But while thousands are dying every year in this country, every day millions worldwide take something they shouldn’t and still wake up the next morning. It’s literally Russian Roulette. That night the bullet was in Blain’s chamber.

He was by no means a druggie. He loved his beer and country music. He was a giant teddy bear. He loved to laugh.

One time he walked right past JT’s truck into his own and still backed right into JT’s. I never let him forget it.

He would listen to my radio show and tell me how dumb I was for something I said. I’d ask him how someone so dumb could get into Rice.

He was terrible at golf but great fun to play with. We would laugh at three or four of his shots a round. He’d laugh along with us.

Unfortunately most of you reading this didn’t know Blain. For you it’s probably just another story.

For the Padgetts it’s a nightmare they can’t wake up from.

There probably weren’t a handful of days that went by that Blain didn’t talk to his mom, dad or sisters.

Blain’s dad Mical played linebacker at Texas. Blain was bigger and played defensive end but they were almost the same guy. They talked football like mathematicians talk formulas.

There was no less love for his mom and sisters.

Two years ago Rice had practice on Thanksgiving morning so instead of driving all the way to Sour Lake, Blain and a couple other players had Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

Before we ate my wife made all of us write down what we were thankful for then we guessed who wrote what. We do it every year. JT never takes it seriously so we knew which one was his. Blain’s was easy too.

All it said was “mom dad my sisters.”

For some reason my wife saved it.  

JT spoke at Blain’s funeral and at the end gave the Padgetts that piece of paper. It’s proof of what they meant to him. But they didn’t need that proof. They knew.

I only knew Blain for about three years but I can’t stop thinking about him.

I don’t want to stop though and I’m sure I’m not alone.

He was only 21 but Blain was loved by thousands of people. I have never seen a bigger funeral than his and I’m old. I’ve seen a lot of funerals. All of Sour Lake was there and then some. They played his favorite country songs and told stories that made you laugh and cry.

Everyone there cried that day. I still want to.

If this article does nothing other than keep Blain alive in someone’s mind one more day then it was a success.

I miss Blain.

If you knew him you do too.

 

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
Astros on the hunt. Composite Getty Image.

With the Astros' surge from 10 games out of first place to within two games of Seattle, catching and going past the Mariners has naturally become the top objective. It's no given to happen but it's right there. In the final series ahead of the All-Star break, while the Mariners are in the midst of four games with the lowly Angels, the last two World Series champions renew (un)pleasantries at Minute Maid Park.

The Astros enter the weekend five games ahead of the Rangers. They lead the season series with the reigning champs four wins to three. While the Astros can't quite finish off the Arlingtonians by sweeping them in this three game set, shoving them eight games back (even further back of Seattle and the current Wild Card teams) and clinching the tiebreaker would seem close to a death blow. Taking two out of three would be fine for the Astros. If the Rangers win the series, they are clearly still in the American League West and Wild Card races coming out of the All-Star break.

Last year the Rangers had the best offense in the AL. So far in 2024 they rank a mediocre eighth in runs per game. Nathaniel Lowe is the lone Ranger (get it?!?) regular playing as well as he did last season. Corey Seager has been fine but not at the MVP runner-up level of last year. Marcus Semien is notably down, as is 2023 ALCS Astros-obliterater Adolis Garcia. Stud 2023 rookie Josh Jung has been out with a broken wrist since ex-Astro Phil Maton hit him with a pitch in the fourth game of this season, though fill-in third baseman Josh Smith has been the Rangers' best player. 21-year-old late season phenom Evan Carter largely stunk the first two months this season and has been out since late May with a back injury. Repeating is hard, never harder than it is now. Hence no Major League Baseball has done it since the Yankees won three straight World Series 1998-2000.

Chasing down the Division at a crazy clip

From the abyss of their 7-19 start, the Astros sweep over the Marlins clinched a winning record at the break with them at 49-44. Heading into the Texas matchup the Astros have won at a .627 clip since they were 7-19. A full season of .627 ball wins 101 games. If the Astros win at a .627 rate the rest of the way they'll finish with 92 wins, almost certainly enough to secure a postseason slot and likely enough to win the West. Expecting .627 the rest of the way is ambitious.

With it fairly clear that Lance McCullers is highly unlikely to contribute anything after his latest recovery setback, and Luis Garcia a major question mark, what Justin Verlander has left in 2024 grows more important. With the way the Astros often dissemble or poorly forecast when discussing injuries, for all we know Verlander could be cooked. Inside three weeks to the trade deadline, General Manager Dana Brown can't be thinking a back end of the rotation comprised of Spencer Arrighetti and Jake Bloss should be good enough. The Astros have 66 games to play after the All-Star break, including separate stretches with games on 18 and 16 consecutive days.

All-Star MIAs

Viewership for Tuesday's All-Star game at Globe Life Field in Arlington will be pretty, pretty, pretty low in Houston. One, All-Star Game ratings are pitiful every year compared to where they used to be. Two, the Astros could be down to zero representatives at Tuesday's showcase. Kyle Tucker was rightfully named a reserve but had no shot at playing as he continues the loooong recovery from a bone bruise (or worse) suffered June 3. Being named an All-Star for a ninth time was enough for Jose Altuve. He opts out of spending unnecessary time in Texas Rangers territory citing a sore wrist. This despite Altuve playing four games in a row since sitting out the day after he was plunked and highly likely to play in all three games versus the Rangers this weekend. Yordan Alvarez exiting Wednesday's rout of the Marlins with hip discomfort and then missing Thursday's game seem clear reasons for him to skip, though he has indicated thus far he intends to take part. Yordan is the most essential lineup component to the Astros' hopes of making an eighth straight playoff appearance.

Ronel Blanco should have made the American League squad on performance, but pretty obviously his 10 game illegal substance use suspension was held against him. As it works out, Blanco will pitch Sunday in the last game before the break which would render him unavailable for the All-Star Game anyway. Blanco is eligible to pitch, but given the career high-shattering innings workload Blanco is headed for, no way the Astros want him on the mound Tuesday. Just last year the Astros kept Framber Valdez from pitching in the game.

While waiting, and waiting, and waiting on Tucker's return, the Astros have also been waiting on Chas McCormick to get back to something even faintly resembling the hitter he was last year. McCormick routinely looks lost at the plate. He has four hits (all singles) in his last 32 at bats with his season OPS pitiful at .572. During the break the Astros should seriously weigh sending McCormick to AAA Sugar Land and giving Pedro Leon a try in a job share with Joey Loperfido.

*Catch our weekly Stone Cold ‘Stros podcast. Brandon Strange, Josh Jordan, and I discuss varied Astros topics. The first post for the week generally goes up Monday afternoon (second part released Tuesday) via The SportsMap HOU YouTube channel or listen to episodes in their entirety at Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome