ATHENS — In the midst of a football season, coaches normally want their players thinking about nothing but today’s homework and Saturday’s game. But Georgia coach Mark Richt welcomed a visitor to practice on Wednesday to talk to the team about something far weightier than winning an athletic contest.
Mike Lutzenkirchen spoke to the Bulldogs about the importance of making wise decisions. If you recognize his last name, he is the father of former Auburn star and NFL player Phillip Lutzenkirchen.
Phillip Lutzenkirchen and former Georgia baseball player Ian Davis were killed in an alcohol-related car accident that injured two other individuals in June in LaGrange. Lutzenkirchen was 23; Davis was 22.
“He just wanted to talk a little bit about the legacy of his son and the fact that he made a massive amount of good decisions in his life and that he did a lot of great things on and off the field, really a guy that most people would look up to if you took his life in totality,” Georgia coach Mark Richt told reporters after Wednesday’s practice. “But there was a moment where he made a bad choice, and that bad choice cost him everything. I don’t think his father wanted that to happen to anybody else.”
Phillip Lutzenkitchen attended Lassiter High in Marietta and grew up as one of the best friends — and favorite targets — of Georgia quarterback Hutson Mason. Mason wears a blue No. 43 pin on his shirt in his late friend’s honor whenever he does interviews or makes public appearances.
It was Mason’s idea to have Mr. Lutzenkirchen in to speak to Georgia’s players.
“They were probably best friends in high school,” Richt said of Lutzenkirchen and Mason. “He also knew Kolton Houston and Michael Bennett and Watts Dantzler; they competed against him in basketball. There was some familiarity with a lot of our guys in the room that the father identified with a little bit.
“Sometimes when you hear stories from a coach or just a speaker who is random it doesn’t hit very close to home. But when a father walks in there and talks to you about a guy that we all knew of and competed against and some knew very well … he did a nice job. I appreciated him doing that.”
Mike Lutzenkitchen was planning to talk to players at Clemson next. He’s making the rounds to talk to young athletes and trying to raise awareness about the potential dangers out there for young adults.
The Lutzenkirchens have started an organization called the “Lutzie 43 Foundation.” It’s mission is to develop programs that “aim to develop the character of young athletes and their coaches focusing on leadership, charity, compassion, mentorship, hard work, honesty, and faith.” You can check it out HERE.
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