He may be gone, but he#039;ll never be forgotten

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2007

(Editor's note: This column appeared in the June 7, 2006, edition of The Greenville Advocate as a memorial tribute to my brother, Allen Wayne Phillips, Jr.

Allen passed away six years ago this week and as a continuing tribute to his life, I hope to print these words, with a few changes, every year.)

My how time flies. Come Thursday, it will be exactly six years ago that this state lost one of the greatest athletes, and people, it has ever known.

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Most of you probably never saw him play, even though he was one of Auburn University's finest athletes ever.

As an athlete, he was phenomenal. He could fly up and down the field with the grace of a cheetah, yet he could pounce on an opposing player with that same ferocity.

I miss seeing him play the sport he loved, but what I miss more is the things he has missed seeing as a sports enthusiast.

Over the past six years, so many things have happened that he would have been in awe of.

The first event he missed, the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, would have shaken his emotions, yet it would have been intriguing to him due to his love of world history.

As all sports stood still on that weekend following the terrorist attacks, he would have stood still with the world.

As a Barry Bonds fan, he would have loved seeing Bonds hit his record-shattering 73rd home run, yet he would have been highly disappointed in Bonds' recent actions.

He also would not have believed the Red Sox could have ever topped the Yankees in the postseason, finally reversing the curse of the Babe.

In NASCAR, he would have loved seeing Tony Stewart win two championships, but he would still be cheering for Mark Martin to win his first.

On the college hardwood, he would have claimed he was going to pick Maryland, Syracuse, Connecticut, North Carolina and Florida twice to win the last six national championships in his brackets, yet he probably wouldn't have picked any of them. He would have, though, been floored that it took the eventual national champion Syracuse Orangemen to take out Auburn in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

In the NFL, he would have mourned the loss of the great Johnny Unitas, and he would have mourned Emmitt Smith passing Walter Payton as the league's all-time leading rusher. And he would still debate that &#8220Sweetness” is the greatest, behind Bo Jackson, of course.

He would have been shocked that the New England Patriots he used to make fun of finally became the team that everyone fears.

On the college gridiron, he would have cringed at the thought of LSU, and its obnoxious fans, being able to relish in victory following the 2003 BCS Championship.

In 2004, he would have been heartbroken by the decision of the BCS to leave Auburn out of the championship game, yet seeing his beloved Tigers go 13-0 for the first time in history would have made him the happiest man in the world.

And five consecutive Iron Bowl victories would have been unthinkable to him.

You are probably asking, ‘Who is this athlete you speak of?'.

His name: Allen Wayne Phillips, Jr.

His sport: rugby.

His importance: Allen was my brother.

Six years ago on Thursday, Allen passed away at the age of 24 from injuries sustained in an automobile accident just four days prior.

On this day, I reflect on all the things he has missed, yet I cherish all the memories I have.

While Allen may be gone from this Earth, he is never far from my heart.

Austin Phillips is The Greenville Advocate sports editor and can be reached by phone at 334-382-3111 ext. 122, by fax at 334-382-7104 or by e-mail at austin.phillips@greenvilleadvocate.com