After one of the biggest wins in his college football career, Isaac Asiata looked up in to the clear night sky and thought to himself, "this one's for you Momma Still."
Shelly Still lost her battle with breast cancer in August of 2012, however, the impact she had on Utah's starting right guard was immensely important in shaping who Isaac has become. Shelly was the mother of Isaac's best friend and former teammate Travis Still. Travis spent three years in the Utah program playing special teams and linebacker.
The week before Utah played the USC Trojans, Isaac dyed a lock of his hair pink to honor a woman that made such a big impact on his life.
"She took care of me you know, she was like a second mom," Asiata said. "She fed me and looked out for me like I was one of her own kids. She was special, I thought of her and loved her like a second mom, and that game was for her."
Breast cancer is an ever-growing problem in the United States. According to breastcancer.org, it is expected that 40,000 women will lose their battle with this deadly disease this year alone. It is also estimated that more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed, and 1 in 8 women will be affected in some way. October was dedicated to the awareness and research of breast cancer in all of its forms, and while it may seem gimmicky at times, especially in sports, it does help bring the startling facts to the forefront of society. Football, in particular, has become the most notable sport to take part in the "Pink" movement, and, regardless of its commercial presence, it really does make a difference.
With awareness comes memory and in Isaac's and Travis' case, they are good ones, great even.
"My mom was open and loving. She was fun to be around," Travis said. "She was easy to talk to and she treated everyone with love."
"I met Isaac in middle school when we started playing football," Travis recalls. "We've been friends ever since. I'm living in Michigan now, but we talk a lot you know. I'm happy for him. We talk about football and just whatever else. We're brothers. That's how I've always seen him. Not to sound corny or whatever, but he's a big teddy bear, you know? He's kind, and he likes to help others. He's always willing to help someone. He might look intimidating 'cause of how big he is and stuff, but he's just a really nice guy. My mom loved him."
The bond that they shared is evident. They have shared a loss that is indescribable at times, and through it all, they have been there for each other.
"I was on my mission [when Shelly passed away], and I got an email from my mom," Asiata said. "It was hard."
The pink ribbon, and the color pink itself represent hope in the cancer community, hope that life will prevail over the daunting adversary that is breast cancer. Life is a lot like football, you give everything you have to succeed, and in the end, whether you win or lose, if you gave your very best, you can be satisfied with yourself. Shelly Still exemplified this with her generosity, her love and the impact she had on those that came in contact with her. That's why Isaac dedicated not just the win, but his effort to her on that October night.
"That win was for her," Asiata said. "Everything I did that night to help win the game was for her."