51ºF

Minnesota players to attend teammate's funeral

Gary Tinsley (University of Minnesota Athletics photo)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Investigators still haven't said how it happened or what caused the unexpected death of a University of Minnesota football player from Jacksonville. But his entire team is dropping everything and flying down to pay their respects to their teammate.

Outside Friday's viewing for Gary Tinsley, family members said how special he was and how they would never forget his smile. His Golden Gopher teammates wouldn't forget it either.

A spokesman for the university, Andy Seely said the Minnesota football team was practicing until around 9 p.m. Friday night, and then hopping on a chartered flight Saturday morning at around 6 a.m. to attend Tinsley's funeral at 11.

"To me, Gary with the epitome of what college athletics can do for a person," Seely told Channel 4 over the phone.

After some off-the-field trouble early in college, Tinsley changed his life, setting himself apart on the field and off.

"He matured more than any young man I've worked around over the course of a four year span," Seely said. "He really became a team leader, was beloved in that locker room."

While Tinsley's Jacksonville-area family got to pay their respects starting Friday night, having 150 people from his Minnesota family will mean so much on Saturday.

"That means everything to you because that shows Gary didn't just affect people in Jacksonville," his cousin, Marlin Evans said. "It's across the nation. That means a lot, them showing their respect and dignity towards Gary."