Jumping for Tyler

By Ryan Peterson - bio | email

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) -  He's only 16, but Robert E Lee long jumper Tyris Jefferson likes to think big.

"To go 2012," said Jefferson.   "Go to the Olympics in 2012."

Five months ago, the Olympic dream no longer seemed important.  Jefferson's 18 year old sister Tyler, who had joined the Navy, was shot dead near her base in Florida.  For a short time, Tyris lost his edge to compete.

"I got lazy a little bit," said Jefferson.  "I didn't want to do anything anymore, but that happens to everybody. So it just took some time to feel better. You just keep moving forward. You can't fall back so you've got to keep moving."

So Tyris keeps on running and jumping, motivated to make his sister proud.

"For him to be so young , to have dealt with that and put it in his place and use it for motivation, it just shows you how good of a kid he is and where his heart is," said Lee track and field coach Elgin Johnson.

"It makes me feel good to know even though she's not here with me, in spirit she is," said Jefferson.  "It just gives me that feeling that I'm doing good for her."

Only a sophomore, Jefferson is becoming one of the best long jumpers in the state.  He recently taking 3rd place at the Texas Relays jumping 23 feet, 2 inches.

"It was great," said Jefferson.  "There's nothing like Texas Relays, all those people, the stands, the crowd pushing you to do better."

No one pushes Jefferson more, than his late sister.

" It was hard trying to get over it," he said.  "I'm still not over it, but I'm going to see her again."

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