JOHN GRANATO

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.

 

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