Tyler Trent first met Purdue football coach Jeff Brohm and others outside the student entrance to Ross-Ade Stadium. Everyone who walks by or passes through the entrance will now know Trent's story.
Purdue on Wednesday renamed Gate E at the stadium as Gate T2, the Tyler Trent Student Gate, to honor the student and Boilermakers fan who inspired many during his fight against cancer. Trent died on Jan. 1 at age 20 from osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. Along with the new steel archway above Gate T2, which will be built before the 2019 season, will be a plaque with Trent's image that reads "Forever Our Captain" and explains his story and contributions to the university.
"We hope this will be an appropriate way for generations of fans -- and non-fans, for that matter -- to be reminded of what Tyler stood for," university president Mitch Daniels said during a ceremony Wednesday to unveil the memorial. "[He] personified the characteristics we want every Boilermaker, in some measure, to embody."
Trent's parents, Tony and Kelly, unveiled a picture of what the student entrance will look like after construction. Daniels said Mike Berghoff, Purdue's board chairman and president of the Lenex Steel Corporation, donated the steel to construct the new archway.
Purdue also announced that freshman Sean English is the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award, a new scholarship named in Trent's honor to be awarded annually to an undergraduate who has encountered serious physical or similarly daunting adversity in the pursuit of higher education. English, a high school track star from Michigan, lost his right leg after a car struck him in April 2017 as he and his parents had stopped alongside Interstate 96 to help after spotting an overturned vehicle. English underwent more than a dozen surgeries on his leg but returned to run in his final high school track meet 13 months after the incident.
English called Trent a hero, saying, "I want to be Tyler Trent when I grow up."
"Today is his day, this is his gate," English said. "This is such an honor to be attached to his name."
Trent was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, and he had the bone in the upper half of his right arm replaced during surgery. His cancer went into remission but returned several years later, toward the end of high school. The Carmel, Indiana, native still enrolled at Purdue on schedule before leaving campus in September.
Trent served as Purdue's honorary captain several times during the 2018 season. Millions of college football fans learned of his story during Purdue's upset victory over Ohio State, a game Trent attended. He inspired chants of "Cancer sucks!" and the hashtag #TylerStrong, and encouraged donations for cancer research. Purdue established the Tyler Trent Cancer Research Endowment, which raised more than $100,000 before Trent's death.
Trent received many honors last fall, including the Disney Spirit Award and the Sagamore of the Wabash award, the highest civilian award given to Indiana citizens. In October, he received an associate degree from Purdue's Polytechnic Institute.
Purdue quarterback Aaron Banks, also the school's student body president, called Trent "a shining light" for the Purdue community and those around the world.
"If you ever have doubts or struggles that you don't think you can push through," Banks said, "I encourage you to come to this spot and remind yourself of the impact someone can make if they choose to live their lives Tyler Strong."