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From the Anchor Desk
Tuesday, July 10, 2012

By Brian Bailey

Brian Bailey

Pirate Nation lost a fighter in Spencer Hampton

Former East Carolina football player Spencer Hampton.

Photo: ECU SID

By Brian Bailey
All rights reserved.

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Simply put, Spencer Hampton changed lives in a very short amount of time. The former walk-on football player at East Carolina had a short but valiant fight against Stage IV melanoma, a most aggressive cancer.

Hampton got the news after a doctor’s visit to see what was causing his headaches and blurred vision. His visit to the doctor was about a month before he was set to marry his high school sweetheart, Lindsay Styons.

I have been a friend with the Styons family since arriving in Greenville. Raymie Styons is a former ECU baseball star who is now among the top officials in the ACC and other leagues in basketball. He actually sold me one of my first cars early in my career.

Raymie’s children and my children were similar in age. Mine were one year younger than both Lindsay and Trey.

I first met Spencer covering him at D.H. Conley High School. He was a standout on the football field, and he was a part of Conley’s 2005 state championship team in baseball.

Spencer was a rock of a young man, but he was still told he was just too small to play Division I college football. The challenge was set. Despite the odds, Spencer walked on in the fall of 2006 with then East Carolina coach Skip Holtz.

His highlights with the Pirate football program included a trip to play in the 2007 Sheraton Hawai'i Bowl and be a part of that victory and his role on ECU's Conference USA championship squad in 2008.

His motto, “Against All Odds,” took on new meaning with his cancer diagnosis.

Still, Spencer Hampton went to work on once again overcoming everything that was laid out in front of him.

Family and friends formed a Facebook page that now includes over 6,000 members. Lindsay’s brother Trey started writing a blog to keep everyone updated on his fight.

Spencer and Lindsay were married on April 21st. It was a beautiful and emotional ceremony, because all of us in attendance knew what Spencer and Lindsay were facing.

The last time I saw Spencer was at the 2nd annual Coach Rock Golf Classic, less than two weeks before his death. The tournament raises money for cancer research at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and the Leo W. Jenkins Cancer Center. Coach Rock Roggeman, who died of cancer himself in 2009, had worked with Spencer as a part of ECU's defensive staff.

Lindsay was with Spencer that day at the Coach Rock Golf Classic, working hard to make him as comfortable as possible.

In my days, I think I have witnessed the work of angels on earth on two occasions. The first was Lynn LeClair, the wife of former ECU baseball coach Keith LeClair. The work she did for Keith and her children during Coach LeClair’s fight with ALS was nothing short of amazing.

The second angel I’ve seen in action was Lindsay Styons Hampton. Lindsay decided from day one that this would be “their” fight, and she was with her new husband through every agonizing step. Every time I asked about how the couple was doing, the response I would get would be, ‘They are holding up better than we are.’

I knew after our short visit that Spencer was struggling. He told Coach Ruffin McNeill good luck in the upcoming season, and that he hoped he’d be around to see the team play.

Spencer lost his bout with cancer in the early morning hours of June 29th. He would suffer no more.

I sat in the back of the chapel at Spencer’s funeral. When Lindsay walked in, she took a deep breath, looked up at the ceiling, exhaled and moved forward.

I don’t know if she was looking at Spencer, or God, or maybe both.

I do know she has a lifetime partner in sprit in Spencer. I also know that Spencer’s fight brought an entire community together for his cause.

The poem that was read at the service ended like this:

Perhaps my life seemed all too brief;
Don’t lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me.
God wanted me now, He set me free.


E-mail Brian Bailey.

Brian Bailey Archives

07/10/2012 01:20 AM


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