In May, former Auburn great Philip Lutzenkirchen wrote this wonderful story for us about his relationship with his little sister Abby, a blue-chip soccer player at archrival Alabama:
It is awesome to get the chance to drive up the road and watch her destroy the competition on the soccer pitch (Abby, a midfielder and defender, has started all 37 games in her two-year career). I never thought that I would be a vocal fan, screaming at the referees' calls, but I actually get into it. The glares from fans when they recognize who I am and how mad they still are about the touchdown in the 2010 Iron Bowl are priceless.
For Abby and I, it will always be fun and games. She just happens to be an Auburn football fan because I played there, and I just happen to root for the elephant soccer team.
I might just have to paint up in all crimson and rock a "33" on my chest in support of Abby's team next fall. But I probably won't. Blood is thicker than water, but my blood runs orange and navy. War Tide.
Lutz was a skilled and genuine person, on the field and off, and by all accounts one of the best people one could meet. With his openness and on-field experience and sense of humor, he could've easily had a future as a pro sportswriter, if he'd ever wanted to pursue it. But he was also on course to make a great career for himself in his chosen line of work.
And it turns out Abby is a great writer as well. Her open letter on her brother's passing, shared with AL.com, expresses even more of what makes the Lutzenkirchen family special and how many lives Phil impacted during his short time.
Philip and I had a very special relationship being that I was his only little sister. He actually had me as "Baby Sister Abigail" in his phone. Philip was my hero: my knight in shining armor. He was iron man to me, and I made sure that everyone around me knew that I worshiped the ground that he walked on. What made our bond stronger within the past few years is the decision of me to play soccer at Alabama while he was still playing at Auburn. He never lets me forget that I chose to be a "Bammer" but made sure that he was ALWAYS my No. 1 fan, whether he was at my game or not.
However, Philip always said that I was the most athletic in the family -- which his friends would all affirm is a true statement (I promise I'm not making this up). Philip will never know how much that meant to me when he said that. But, it wasn't Philip's athletic accolades that made me look up to him: it was his smile. My brother's smile could light up a room. It was his charisma, his love for our dogs, his big bear hugs, and his playful way of picking on me. It was his unconditional love for his family. It was the little notes he would leave for me in my room whenever he came home. It was the way I could always count on him to watch a Disney movie with me. It was the way he danced with us in the car, and his silly Snapchats of him singing my favorite Usher songs.
You should read the whole thing more than once.