Football

Tyler’s Fight

Earl Campbell. (Mike Blackwell/IT)
Earl Campbell. (Mike Blackwell/IT)

It would be hard to imagine Tyler Campbell having a bad day. Perpetual smile, strong handshake, eye contact on point…Earl Campbell’s youngest son lights up every room into which he steps.

That was certainly the case last month in Austin, when he stepped into a downtown Austin ballroom and helped raise thousands of dollars for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Certainly Campbell’s positive persona makes him a perfect candidate for the task of raising money for the cause, but there is also something else that makes him a perfect fit for the job.

He has multiple sclerosis.

Campbell’s sunny disposition belies the fact that he is in a daily fight with MS, a battle that he’s fought since being diagnosed in 2007 while playing football for San Diego State University. That battle was made at least a little easier – and more worthwhile – by the festivities of last Saturday night, when countless sports stars – and a handful of hall of famers – showed up in full support of the fund raiser.

Hosted by Earl, Tyler was one of the event’s masters of ceremony, along with Kevin Dunn of the Longhorn Network. The A-list of attendees included Gale Sayers, Bob Lilly, Franco Harris, Cortez Kennedy, Brian Bosworth, Leigh Steinberg, Cedric Benson…this was a big deal. Most importantly, the event helped raise scholarship money for students with MS as well.

“My joy from an event like this comes with these kids getting help with scholarship money,” said Campbell, a husband and new father. “The fact that we can help one kid makes this an honor and a privilege. I couldn’t be prouder.”

Campbell certainly was proud of the turnout that Saturday night at the Radisson. The venue was packed, live music (of course) was provided, and the live auction was lively, funny and without question lucrative for the charity. And since it was held in conjunction with the Flavors of Austin, and sponsored by Biogen Idec, those with tickets to the event were well fed to say the very least.

Maybe the highlight of the evening was young scholarship recipients sharing their testimony about living with MC, and about the impact the scholarship money has had on their lives.

“The great thing about having those kids come up and speak,” Campbell said, “is that people can see the kids we are helping, and see where their money is going. That was awesome.”

Campbell also said he realizes the impact that his father’s presence has on the annual event. Throughout the night, hall of famers and visitors streamed to shake hands and have their picture taken with the University of Texas Heisman Trophy winner.

“The number one reason some of these big-name guys come to this event is Earl,” Tyler said. “And they know he doesn’t back anything that isn’t real and true. They understand the credibility of having him involved in this. We went from finding athletes to come, to having athletes hoping they get asked to come.”

Speaking of Earl, Tyler said he is thrilled with his dad’s current state of health and happiness.

“I tell everybody, he has happiness in his heart,” Tyler said. “I really believe the measure of a man is how he feels in his heart, and how much fight he has. I think he’s the happiest now than he’s been in years. I love how happy he is.”

Speaking of health, Tyler is comfortable sharing the progress of his personal fight with MS.

“I’m good,” Tyler said. “I have good days and bad days. MS differs from person to person. I’m going to keep fighting while I’m able, and then one of these days when I’m not able, I’m sure one of these kids will be able to take the torch. I’m very blessed.”