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In Their Thoughts

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

KYLE STEWART

He had known Gaines since they played baseball together as 7-year-olds. He joined the five surviving members of the Super Six -- Gaines's closest friends -- as a pallbearer at Gaines's funeral. He later joined the Army and served in Iraq. "He's one of the reasons I joined the military," Stewart said. "I wasn't helping people and my life wasn't going where I wanted. They say you're serving something bigger than yourself, and that's what Billy was about. I'm very well off now. I'm happily married. I owe a lot to him as a person. I thank God every day that I met him."

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BRAD ANDERSON

One of the Super Six, Anderson had just left Vanderbilt, where he grew frustrated playing football, at the time of Gaines's death. He dismissed work and school and drifted toward depression until the day his father asked him, "What would Billy want you to do?" Anderson transferred to the University of Massachusetts, where he played in the 2006 division I-AA national title game and earned his master's degree. "It all worked out in the end," Anderson said. "It was the passing of Billy that spiraled me in that direction." The Super Six reunited last month at the wedding of Remington Ross, one of its members. In the front row, there was a chair with Gaines's name on it.

J.D. BROOKHART

The former wide receivers coach at Pittsburgh didn't think Gaines was good enough for his team the first time he saw him in 2001. As he kept watching, however, Brookhart didn't mind that Gaines was only 5 feet 7 -- he couldn't imagine http://not offering him a spot on the team. Brookhart became the head coach at the University of Akron six months after Gaines's death. Before his first season, he flew out Gaines's mother, Kim, to address his team. She told them Gaines's story. Months later, Brookhart said, some of his players told him Kim's speech dissuaded them from drinking. Brookhart keeps Billy Gaines's nameplate from the Pitt depth chart in his desk.


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