Tragedy brings A&M team together

Football is a game of highs and lows, wins and loses. Most of the time, the roller coaster ride brings coaches, players -- teams, together.

In 2011, before their historical 20-12 season, the Texas A&M Aggies were brought together by a tragedy that hit close to home.

"I'd especially at this time like to honor somebody who is near and dear to everybody at Texas A&M in Joey Villavicensio."

Joseph Villavisencio was born on September 30, 1989 in Jacksonville, Texas.

"He was always off the chart, as far as his growth goes. He was born nine pounds even."

The big baby boy was Jose and Christine Villavisencio's first child.

"It was a, a lot of fun seeing him grow, you know? This huge boy. I remember we put him in a, the first Halloween I believe, we put him in a Dallas outfit, his football stuff, you know? But it never crossed my mind that he'd actually, he will be playing football."

But when Joseph entered the eighth grade, a costume became a uniform.

At 6-feet-2, with a size 14 shoe, he was a coach's dream and an equipment manager's nightmare.

"Their middle school helmets and so they had to go get the high school helmets."

Joseph's parents *never* imagined where football would take him.

"He goes into his junior year and he starts getting all these letters in the mail."

"We got this letter from A&M inviting us to go and see a game and go, I say "Lets go see a game."

Not long after, Joseph was an Aggie ... Number 67 ... Getting a rare start, as a freshman, against Iowa State.

"He was the only freshman we played that year and as a true freshman, I mean, he did an unbelievable job... Just his character to step on that field and perform the way he did."

That character was evident off the field too.

"He was in a club that went around and picked up drunken, you know, instead of driving your car home, you could call Joe V. and he'd go pick you up."

"And he was passionate about it, and he would talk about how many lives they've saved."

On December 22, 2011, it was Joseph's life on the line. The Aggies held their final practice for the Meineke Car Care Bowl before taking a short Christmas break. Joseph hopped in his car and headed home to Jacksonville.

"We knew exactly what time he would get home."

Never late, Joseph's parents became worried. Christine called her son, but he didn't pick up. She called back, and a woman answered.

"She said, 'Has the sheriff contacted you yet?' And I said, 'No.' 'And I said, 'He's okay?' And she said, 'Yes.' And I said, 'If he's okay, why do you have his phone?' And she said, 'Well, he's not okay.' She said, 'He's dead.' "

The 22-year-old senior collided, head-on, with an 18-wheeler.

"It was pure hell. He died on the 22nd and then the 25th, Christmas day, he's by himself in a coffin, you know? And we burry him the 26th."

Joseph's younger sister Mikaela, never imagined life without him.

"Now, my, if I ever get married or have kids, they're not going to know who he was."

"Thy kingdom come, thy will be done ..."

Nine days after Joseph's death, the Aggies took on Northwestern.

"Lets go baby. Lets go. V..."

"And we said, "This one is for Joey." We wore the decals on our helmets. And it was really just a special thing for us to ban together and kind of grieve together and go out and play and come out with a win."

"Guys, I don't know what to say. It's overwhelming. Thank you guys from the bottom of my heart, and I know he's watching over there for you guys."

"He's so proud. He's so proud."

"You're afraid that, especially in our son, we're afraid that his name is going to be forgotten."

"Johnny Manziel."

In his Heisman acceptance speech, A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel made sure that didn't happen.

"Around this time last year, a center on our team passed away in a tragic car accident. It was something that, that as a whole team that we really had to fight through and press on through the bowl game and to Mr. and Mrs. Villavisencio, if I had a son, I would want him to be exactly like him."

"He didn't need to do that but yet he used his special moment, his own time, to remember my son."


Joseph was a four-year letterman in football. His younger sister, Mikaela, is a student at A&M.

Joseph's parents still attend football games at Kyle Field. They stop by their son's crash sight every time they go to College Station.



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