LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – The Hermleigh boy’s basketball team couldn’t celebrate its district championship win without two of its star players. So, the Cardinals brought the gold ball trophy to their teammates, Brenson Halford and Tyler Stewart, to the hospital in Lubbock.
The two seniors were seriously injured in a crash on the Slaton highway Saturday night and have been undergoing surgeries and recovering at the hospital. Since they had to miss Tuesday night’s district championship win over Ira, their teammate, Luis Esparza, says they decided to bring the celebration to them the next morning.
“They obviously have been a big part of what we do, they’ve been here the whole time,” Esparza said. “We all work really hard and I just thought, we all thought they deserved the gold ball.”
Along with the gold ball, the team brought a piece of the net to Halford and Stewart. Esparza says both were grateful to see their teammates and their success.
“Once we took the picture, I showed it to him and he’s like ‘Dang, we look tough,’” Esparza said.
The Cardinals’ coach Sammy Winters says the act speaks to who his players are as men and brothers.
“To see to see the relationship that they all have and how much they care for each other, I think that’s a small step in showing who they are and who they’re going to be as men moving forward,” Winters said. “They’ve got great big hearts.”
Elaine Gibson, a teacher at Hermleigh and mom to one of Halford and Stewarts’ teammates, adds the overwhelming support from their team and the entire area speaks to the two seniors’ character.
“I can’t say enough about those two boys. They are, they’re just so much fun. Like, you can’t be in a room, or around them, even after their wreck, still cracking jokes. Still smiling,” Gibson said.
The boy’s parents sent KCBD a message, writing “We knew we had good kids, but every parent thinks their kid is great, right? We truly had no idea how much our boys were loved.” They shared the support they’ve received since the wreck, from phone calls to hospital visits, fundraisers, and meals, adding, “We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.”
Along with Hermleigh ISD starting a donation collection, students designing t-shirts, and more, Gisbson says even rival schools have gathered funds for the families.
“We appreciate everyone and their support and their prayers. What a blessing that we have from everybody and we just ask that you continue to pray,” Winters said “We ask that you continue to keep them in your hearts and you know we just we hope they get out soon.”
Gibson says Halford is still in the ICU after a 12-hour spinal surgery. She says Stewart is still having stomach problems after several internal surgeries after the wreck.
“We really need to continue to lift these boys up in prayer. They’re not out of the woods yet, but I know that they are strong-willed,” Gibson said.
She says Friday night before the wreck, when Halford and Stewart were still playing, the Cardinals were behind for most of the game against Westbrook. Hermleigh came back in the end, solidifying their spot as district champions.
The moment in the hospital was even sweeter for Stewart, who moved to Hermleigh from Roby and told coaches at the beginning of the year he wanted a gold ball.
The full statement from the Halford and Stewart families is below:
“We knew we had good kids, but every parent thinks their kid is great, right? We truly had no idea how much our boys were loved. They’ve got the greatest group of friends but it doesn’t stop there. They’ve got an army of people that genuinely love them and would go to the end of the earth for them. This became apparent the night we got the call about the accident. We were on our way to Lubbock and received a call from Coach Winters making sure we knew about the accident and wanted to know what we needed, even though he wasn’t in the state. Hermleigh ISD followed shortly after by initiating a collection for us. When we got to the hospital, the boy’s friends were already there. Luis, Brenson’s best friend, didn’t leave for a few days. They’ve all made the trip back day after day to visit. We have had a steady flow of traffic at the hospital from the school. The superintendent, coaches, teachers, current and past principals, and a lot of students have visited. The outpouring of love has not stopped. The Hermleigh students have designed and sold shirts, decorated and made memorabilia, and prayed for us. The boy’s basketball team wore our son’s jerseys and brought home the district title in their honor. They all loaded up the night after the final district game to bring Brenson and Tyler the gold ball and their piece of the basketball net so they were able to celebrate the win with their team. Almost all of our “rival” schools have started some form of fundraising for our families. Multiple businesses in Scurry county have donated a portion of their proceeds to us or fed us at the hospital. the community has also supported the siblings of Brenson and Tyler. They’ve attended playoff games in our absence, offered to feed, transport, grocery shop, whatever we needed. People we have not met have prayed for us. Kids have prayed for us. Kids that have been withdrawn have become more involved and interactive. One of the teachers sent us a message today that I would like to include because our boys have reached farther than we could have ever imagined.”
“Hey, y’all. I just want you to know that God is working. Maybe not the way we expect or want, but He is with you through this. I cannot even tell you all the ways this situation is affecting kids and teachers. They are thinking more about others and God, and less about themselves. That alone is a good thing. I hate it that it’s at the expense of y’alls’ kids, but God is working. There’s a student who has kept to herself for years. She has initiated a fundraiser and physically came to the basketball game in Ira. She beat on chairs and cheered. Her first time EVER doing that. When she heard about the boys’ wreck she was moved and compelled to help. That is so beautiful to me. I believe God is working on her heart and softening it for salvation. Hang in there. I know you’re worried. That’s ok. Take it to Jesus. Tell Him your raw feelings and emotions. He can handle it. Trust in His timing and plan. He cares deeply for you, those precious boys, and your families. – Elaine Gibson”
“We are forever grateful for everyone’s prayers, thoughts, well wishes, and donations. When our boys are ready to hear about it all, we won’t leave a single thing out. They’ll know how much they are loved and how their community, school, friends, and family have fought for them.”
– From Ricky Halford, Laura Landa, Keri Halford, Jason Stewart, Rachel, and Brandon Scherwitz, we thank you all from the bottom of our hearts.
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