Marcus Hayes: Garrett Reid had trouble eluding trouble

Posted: August 07, 2012

BETHLEHEM — Andy Reid, slimmed and smiling, stood in the midday sun. Sweat poured off him and dripped from his mustache, bushier as the years progress.

Congratulated on his son Britt's recent marriage, asked about his other children's lives, Reid beamed.

Reid never beams. Only when he speaks about his family.

"Everybody's great," Reid said.

Seven days later.

Everything is not great.

Everything is awful.

Garrett Reid, the eldest of Reid's five children, was found dead in his dorm room at Lehigh University on Sunday morning.

The coach missed Sunday's training-camp workout.

Reid likely will be absent from the team for several days as he grieves the loss of his firstborn.

Only 29, Garrett Reid left behind a devastated family; his father and mother, Tammy; his little brother and lifelong pal, Britt; his sisters, Crosby and Drew Ann; and Spencer, the baby.

They lose a son, and they lose the big brother.

Nothing affects a family of young adults like losing their big brother.

No matter how flawed, how troubled, a big brother always is a big brother.

Garrett Reid, when he was a teenager in Green Bay, was a tall, awkward big brother.

He hoped to impress his big-shot father.

He hoped to not disappoint his ferocious mother.

He hoped to lead the brood at his heels to do the same.

Garrett Reid grew into manhood tall and awkward.

He hoped to impress pretty women.

He hoped to not disappoint his buddies, the Eagles players who treated him and Britt as mascots, especially on game days. They would roam the sidelines as ballboys, or they would hold the wire to their father's headset; they were part of the team, part of the scene.

Forebodingly, Garrett also led Britt in the pursuit of unfettered enjoyment. Young princes possessed of the transitive fame from having a famous parent, they would borrow their father's pretty SUV and cruise through the city to South Street, intent on exercising their influence and privilege as they lunched and got haircuts and basked in their fame.

In 2007, the world in which he and Britt lived collapsed.

Suddenly, they weren't Big Red's big boys.

They were druggies.

They were gun-waving thugs, and they weren't cute anymore.

They were terrifying.

They were everything Reid hoped they would never become ... but that, too, served a purpose.

The younger children saw them fall, and feared the same.

Andy and Tammy became better parents, more involved, more reflective.

Spencer, the youngest, dedicated himself to the game, walked the straight-and-narrow and now is a running back at Temple, the pride of a proud family. In the wake of his brothers' wasted years, he became what they had once hoped to become.

After his troubles, Britt remade himself.

He reverted, really. Once again he became a personable kid, the affable redhead kid who everybody liked as soon as they saw his sideways smile.

Garrett never was that kid.

Garrett was quieter, more withdrawn. Always very sensitive.

Tall. Awkward.

It turned out that, between the brothers, Garrett had the larger issues.

While serving time in county jail for a 2007 traffic accident while high on heroin, Garrett got caught smuggling drugs into jail. When he got out, he failed a drug test and while at a halfway house, he got into a fight with another resident. He was sent back to jail.

Eventually, Garrett, like Britt, remade himself, too. Differently.

Garrett Reid grew into adulthood tall and awkward ... and massive, and hardened.

After the two stints in jail, his smile came less frequently.

He tended to look past people.

He moved through the world, but where he had been engaging, he now rarely engaged.

The hardening was physical, too.

It seemed to suit him.

What was soft and gangly for its first 27 years became chiseled and massive. His chest expanded. His belly collapsed. His shoulders broadened.

He was still tall. Awkward.

But, now, imposing.

He had been assisting the strength coaches at Eagles camp, but as a specimen only 29 years old, Garrett Reid almost looked like a player.

He had a girlfriend.

He looked fit, stable.

He looked great.

Just like his father said.

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