Hundreds Gather in Pavilion to Pay Respects to Former Coach
Members of the Santa Monica College community and beyond gathered yesterday in the campus Pavilion to partake in a beautiful memorial service honoring the late Corsairs football coach, Robert Taylor.
Those who spoke in Taylor's honor quoted him as saying he had over "900 sons," and this sentiment reflected truth as the gym's bleachers offered little vacancy during the service.
Current SMC football players respectfully donned their jerseys trying to hold back tears, but the memorial service wasn't a sad one. "We are here today for the auspicious occasion of celebrating and honoring the life of Coach Robert T. Taylor," said Reverend Gayle Davis-Culp, Pastor of the Holy Trinity AME Church.
Coach "T", as Taylor was known, first joined the Corsairs football coaching staff in 1984 and was dedicated to the team until he passed on Oct. 22, of this year.
Attendees clapped, laughed, and cried to memories of the late Corsair's coach. They hugged and encouraged one another as friends and family took the podium to share revered memories.
"Coach T helped me realized what the word ‘win' stands for. And what the word ‘win' stands for is ‘what's important now.' What was important now for Coach Taylor was making sure the kids got a great education," said Darrell Hobbs, former NFL player for the Raiders and Seahawks.
Taylor was known, "to be in the business of saving lives," Defensive Line Coach Charles "Buck" Andrews said, as the audience gave him a standing ovation.
Indeed, he was. On a clip from ESPN played at the memorial, Chad Johnson of the Cincinnati Bengals said, "If it weren't for Coach ‘T' I'd be on the streets, on drugs, or selling…or doing something."
Many young men who played under Taylor expressed similar feelings about the impact of him in their lives. Raphael Chapital, a current SMC football player said, "I'm so grateful to him for giving me a second chance, and having faith in me."
A former teammate of Johnson's at SMC, Steve Smith, current Carolina Panther of the NFL and long-time friend of Coach Taylor, said in an exclusive interview with the Corsair, "A great man has been lost, and someone said it best, that a lot of kids are going to lose the benefit of having him in their life."
Taylor touched so many lives and tried to help so many people. So much so he was accused of forging addresses for football players so they might have in-state tuition, stripping him of his coaching title just a short nine weeks ago.
This did not stop Taylor as he continued on teaching at SMC, as per his well-known motto, "Everything is going to be alright.
This belief for Taylor that, "everything is going to be alright," was so strong that not even his closest relatives, including his brother Ed "Lucky" Taylor who spoke to him everyday on the phone, knew he was suffering from colon cancer.
A lifelong friend of Taylor's, Bill Riley read a quote from Nelson Mandela, "A man's goodness is a flame that can never be extinguished." Members of the audience for the memorial knew exactly what Riley meant as they were standing testaments to Taylor's life work and dedication.
The Reverend Davis-Culp finished the ceremony thanking the Edelweiss Flower Boutique for their charitable contribution of beautiful flower arrangements for the ceremony and also thanked SMC for printing pamphlets and donation of refreshments preceding the service. She then noted, echoing the quote of Mandela, "Robert Taylor is alive, and well."