Their son's tragic death became Mark and Kym Hilinski's life's work
Note: This column was published originally in the Lede on May 26, 2023.
Today is Tyler Hilinski's birthday. He would've been 27 years old. He could've been a veteran NFL quarterback or a young college coach, a husband and a father, a continuing light in the lives of so many people around him.
Instead his light expired on Jan. 16, 2018, his life ended by his own hand on the trigger of a gun at the tender age of 21, for reasons that may never be fully understood. Tyler was a junior quarterback at Washington State under Mike Leach, coming off his first career start in the Holiday Bowl, already the author of an epic comeback against Boise State, but his bright future was no match for the enveloping darkness of depression.
After his shocking suicide, according to his parents, an autopsy later revealed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.
Mark and Kym Hilinski took the darkest moment of their lives, the deepest pain a parent can feel, and turned it and Tyler's life into their life's work. They started the Hilinski's Hope Foundation "to educate, advocate and eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness, while funding programs that provide student-athletes with the tools and resources that support their mental health and wellness."
The heart of their mission is found in their visits with college athletes across the country in what they call Tyler Talks. They conducted two of them in Alabama in March, visiting with Auburn University at Montgomery athletes from various sports one day and with the UAB football team two days later. ...
Read the rest of Kevin's column on the important work Mark and Kym Hilinski are doing in the critical area of young athlete mental health. Only in the Lede.