Memories of a fallen Tiger – The Daily Helmsman
In the Bible, the Parable of the Talents tells the story of a man who rewards his “good and faithful” servants for their hard work and diligence by inviting them to “enter into the joy of their master.”
The family of University of Memphis student Gerold Blum felt that this parable was a fitting metaphor for the way Blum lived his life before it was tragically cut short over the break.
The medical examiner said that when Blum died in his sleep on Dec. 19 that he most likely felt no pain, and probably never woke from his rest. Blum was only 18 years old.
The preliminary autopsy came back inconclusive, however, examiners were able to determine that Blum passed away from natural causes, possibly from a condition such as Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, which is similar to the common and benign condition known as “Athlete’s Heart.”
Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the leading cause of death in young athletes and was responsible for several high profile deaths, including that of Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White.
The hypothesis is fitting — Blum was an athlete. Blum played football for Saint Benedict High School at Auburndale, where he graduated from in 2013. He was also a standout cadet in the University of Memphis ROTC program. In addition to being one of only two students to get a full 4-year scholarship to the University from the ROTC program, he was the only freshman on the Ranger Team.
“I remember one time we were looking for a quarterback,” Army ROTC Cadet Tevin Howell said of the Army ROTC flag football team that competes against other military branches. “We had no quarterback, a couple of guys had already gone out there and messed up, then Blum gets out there, drops back and threw the ball like 40 yards. After that, he was our quarterback.”
Howell, a 20-year-old junior management information systems major, has very fond memories of Blum, who he considered an exemplary cadet.
“As a cadet he was the one that kept the moral going in his class, if someone looked down Blum was going to come by and make a joke,” Howell said. “He was a good leader, very smart, witty, athletic… just a real, well-rounded guy,”
When he heard the news, Howell felt shock and disbelief.
“I thought it was a lie,” Howell said. “I just kept thinking ‘not him,’ he was going to be the one who was going to be running the program when he was an MS4.”
In addition to the Army ROTC program, Blum was in line to become a member of the fraternity, Lambda Chi Alpha.
“He was so obsessed with Memphis Tiger sports the only place he would accept his bid was at the Liberty Bowl,” said Lambda Chi president Domenic Martini, a 20-year-told political science major. “He told us ‘I want it to be memorable, I want to care about it, because I want to remember the day I joined Lambda Chi.’”
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