Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Human Tragedy Behind the Will Lyles Story

The infrastructure of the American family is crumbling, particularly in the black community.  Into the void come gangs and questionable mentors.

In the United States alone, 21.2 million children (26% of all children) are growing up in a household with only one custodial parent.

Among Black children, 48.5% are growing up with a single custodial parent.

5 out of every 6 custodial parents are mothers (84%), 1 in 6 are fathers (16%).


Children in father-absent homes are five times more likely to be poor. In 2002, 7.8% of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 38.4% of children in female-householder families.

Drug and Alcohol Abuse

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states, "Fatherless children are at a dramatically greater risk of drug and alcohol abuse."
             from the website
The one person I feel sorry for in the whole Will Lyles mess is Lache Seastrunk.  He's had the searing details of his upbringing broadcast all over the internet to generate web hits.  Growing up largely without both parents, as they were in and out of drug use and jail, he's a genuinely good kid who survived an extremely painful situation.  Here are some details, from a September 2010 story by Stephen Alexander of the Portland Tribune:
“My dad is incarcerated for 35 years,” he says, pausing for several moments. “But it came to me … my dad called me … hold on.”

Seastrunk turns his back to the interviewer, raises his hand to his eyes and sniffs. After more than a minute of fighting back emotion, he turns back around.


He says his father had been locked up before, “long before I was even thought of.” He says his father got out when Seastrunk was in middle school and was back in just as he was about to enter high school.

Seastrunk also says his mother was in and out of his life.
“I had my mom for a brief time, but she left,” he says. “And my dad left. And then my mom came back. And she was in my life for a long time. That’s when my dad came back, and I had my mom and my dad. But they were never together. They were always separated. And then my dad left again.”
Seastrunk’s mother, Evelyn, vehemently denied Seastrunk’s story. An 11-minute interview turned sour when she was questioned about being in her son’s life.
“Reporters write their own stories,” she said. “I don’t give a damn what he tells you. For 18 years, I’m the one who broke my back to make sure he got to where he is.”
Pastor Quinton J. Gibson Sr., of St. James United Methodist Church in Temple, was a “chaplain on the side” for the athletic programs at Temple High. Gibson corroborates what Seastrunk says about his upbringing.
“(His childhood) was shaky,” Gibson says. “It wasn’t as stable as it needed to be.”
Gibson was one of the people who helped Seastrunk and kept him on track with his unshakable faith

Young men from difficult circumstances, it is natural they would reach out for someone to trust.  LaMichael James has a similarly painful story.  He was raised by his grandmother, who died during his junior year of high school.

LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk were two talented kids who just wanted to play football.  Will Lyles exploited their trust for his own profit.  And now their honest attempt to find mentorship is being dragged through the papers, along with the details of their private sorrow.


  1. wow- you have hit the nail on the head. Quite honestly this is exactly what I thought when I first heard this whole thing- LMJ and Seastrunk's lives are now an open book for everyone to view. I have heard James in spite of some very tough times is a very stable; humble kid. Yes, he has not always made the best choices but he appears to have learned from them. I hope the same for Lache and without sounding to maudlin I honestly keep these two young men in my prayers. Not because they are Ducks but becasue they are young adults who need someone extra care!

  2. inadvertent_whistleJuly 5, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    Profound comment.

    I'm not sure what to think except that I think LaMichael James and Lache Seastrunk have bright opportunities ahead of them and that their patience, dedication and hard work will allow their lifelong dreams to come true. People are not looking down on them at all in this public media storm.

    I heard Will Lyles defend LaMichael James high school Texas exams that were taken about the time his grandmother passed away, and I can only say that when you're in an emotional place taking a test means nothing, concentration is gone. Congrats LaMichael on working hard in college and on your academics. Keep up the good work. I've messed up on tests after breaking up with a girlfriend, and it lowered all my class grades by one full grade point. I understand.

    Go Lache! People are rooting for you!