Cal community honors Ted Agu at candlelight vigil

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BERKELEY – The candlelight vigil held Wednesday night for the passing of Cal football’s Ted Agu honored a member of the Cal family who was much more than a face on campus. As more than a thousand people gathered at Goldman Plaza outside Memorial Stadium, it quickly became evident that Agu touched countless people in his short 21 years.

“This man is more than a football player, more than a driven student, more than a loyal fraternity brother,” said Cal athletics director Sandy Barbour from the podium, “He was all those things and so much more.”

[Related: Photos from Wednesday's vigil]

The tragic passing of the Cal defensive end came after a routine training run the morning of Feb. 7. Agu began laboring toward the end of the workout near Memorial Stadium. The junior from Bakersfield, Calif. was taken by cart to the Simpson Center medical facility, where he collapsed and became unconscious. Agu was rushed to Alta Bates Hospital, where he passed away shortly after 7 a.m.

“The best way to celebrate Ted is by doing exactly what he did; by doing our best every single day, by being a gentle soul, someone who cares about everybody regardless of the situation, and someone who never, ever stops for one minute for reaching for their goals and what they want to do with their lives,” head football coach Sonny Dykes said.

Agu came to Cal as a nonscholarship walk-on but was rewarded with athletic financial aid in March. He was a public health major and a second-team Pac-12 all-academic selection in 2013 with plans to become a doctor. Agu was a member of the Cal Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a peer advisor for the athletic study center, and a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, all while maintaining a 3.3 GPA.  

Agu played in seven games as a backup last season and recorded six tackles. He played as both a defensive lineman and linebacker wearing No. 35.

A slideshow played from a projector onto the stadium wall as Agu’s family, members from every athletic team, and others from the Berkeley community smiled and laughed in remembrance of the man that they knew and loved. Members of his fraternity, classmates, and teammates took turns at the podium recounting the great impact Agu had on them, which was followed by a candle-lighting ceremony where everyone in attendance placed candles on the edge of Goldman Plaza in memory of Agu.

To help honor Agu and the impact he had on those he met, here are some memories that illustrate Ted from those who knew him best, his friends in the Cal athletic community:

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David Iyamah

CJ Nwuzi, left, Andrew Cruikshank, David Iyamah, and Ted Agu in Dec. 2012.

“Every time I was with Ted it was fun and laughter,” said CJ Nwuzi (Cal track and field) remembering the trip he took with Agu and their friends to Newport Beach last summer.

“Whatever mood you’re in, you’re happier because Ted is there and smiling,” said Derek White (Cal track and field), “That’s the thing everyone remembers about Ted, his smile.”

“He always brought people up,” said David Iyamah ‘13, “And he always knew the right way to say it.”

“He always made things happen,” said Andrew Cruikshank (Cal track and field) after remembering the notebook filled with goals he found in Agu’s room after he passed. Some of those goals included study abroad and create an app.

“There is nothing negative you could say about him,” said White smiling, “He was positive all the time.”

“He was like a fairytale best friend,” said Iyamah, “It’s rare that you meet that kind of person. He was someone you wish everyone had in their life.”

“The way he greeted people was so warm,” said Cruikshank, “Just nothing but love.”

“We all aspire to be like him,” said White.

To assist Agu’s family with funeral costs, please donate to the Ted Agu Memorial Fund which has been set up to honor his memory by his family, friends and the Epsilon Mu Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. As of Wednesday afternoon, $28,286 has been raised with 17 days left to reach the goal of $30,000. 

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