Dye leaves legacy of friendship
Above, Blue Devil teammates (L-R) Marquise Dye, Valdon Copper, K'Taro Cade and Tyshon Dye perform a pregame ritual before playing Wesleyan High School Sept. 3, 2010 in the Granite Bowl. Below, three-year-old Branson Bonds poses with Tyson Dye in 2009. (Photo special to the Star)
The untimely death of Tyshon Dye sent shock waves through the community last week, and the impact of his loss may be measured in the outpouring of support from the lives he touched.
Dye was an elite athlete, mentor and a good teammate. Elbert County Blue Devil fans became accustomed to Dye scoring touchdowns in the Granite Bowl. In three seasons (2010-2012), Dye rushed for 3,357 yards and 45 touchdowns. Dye’s gridiron feats made him one of Elbert County’s most highly recruited athletes.
In 2012, Elbert County High School Head Football Coach Sid Fritts said of the left-handed three-sport athlete, “Tyshon has got unlimited future potential. He’s got a rare blend of size, speed and vision that you don’t see very often.”
Dye went on to play for Clemson University and later East Carolina.
In his career, he had the rare distinction of being on both a state championship team (track, 2011) and on a national championship football team (Clemson, 2016).
Coach Fritts, however, was quick to point out Dye’s legacy was far more than the records he set on the field.
“The football part was just a small part of what Tyshon was about. He was an incredible young man,” Fritts said.
Upon hearing the news of Dye’s passing last Friday night [July 5], Fritts called Clemson’s co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliot. Elliot recruited Tyshon and had built a strong relationship with him as his running backs coach at Clemson. Elliot met with Fritts and the two visited with the family that evening.
“The entire Elbert County community is reeling. As much grief as I experienced last night with the family, I experienced that much support,” Fritts said on July 6. “At Clemson, Dye dealt with injuries and didn’t have the collegiate career he desired. His adversity didn’t hold him back from continuing to wear a bright smile and supporting his teammates.
“You know with all the things that went against him at Clemson he never wavered,” continued Fritts. “He never complained. Never had a pity-party. He just sucked it up and was a good teammate. If you can teach anything, it’s how to be a good a teammate. He was really good at that.”
Tyshon grew up playing sports with his brother Marquise Dye and step-brother Tevin Fleming. The three ran on one of Elbert’s fastest 4x100-meter relay teams in 2011.
“The three brothers were just great young men,” said Elbert County assistant track coach Donald Bolton about Tyshon, Marquise and Tevin. “Tyshon had an incredible work ethic and great worth. He was respectful and always treated people with respect. I will really miss him,” said Coach Bolton. “He was a great soul. He was so far ahead of his time. He was an elite athlete and a true running back. I called him 'Ta-dow.' He really showed his worth in how he managed his injuries. To still be in the midst of the best running backs in the SEC or ACC, says a lot about him and the type of athlete he was.”
Bolton also coached Tyshon’s youngest step-brother, Metrius Fleming who graduated from Elbert County High School this spring. Fleming was on his way to Tennessee Technical University in Cookeville where he was checking into summer football workouts when he heard the news.
“I didn’t know what to think,” said Fleming. “It didn’t seem real.”
Fleming didn’t live in the same house as Tyshon, Marquise and Tevin but grew up playing with them and learning from them. Fleming said Tyshon took an interest in him when he reached middle school age, and it was then that Tyshon began mentoring Metrius.
“He inspired me,” said Fleming. “I wanted to go to Clemson because of him. I’m dedicating this season to him.”
Early in his high school career, Dye built a relationship with a young Elbert County Blue Devil fan.
At the age of three, Branson Bonds became Tyshon’s biggest fan. Branson’s father, Marcus Bonds, had invited Marquise over to the family’s home and soon Tyshon joined Marquise in the visits.
Providing a family friendly atmosphere for the high school athletes, the Bonds took Tyshon and his brothers under their wings.
“It came about through sports,” said Branson’s mother Angie Bonds. “They just bonded. He started coming over to our house and eating supper with us. Him and Branson were like two peas in a pod. Branson and Tyshon had a unique relationship. Tyshon was Branson’s idol. He looked up to him and he was like the big brother that he never had.”
Tyshon even inspired Marcus to become an Elbert County lay coach.
“He said you ought to try to be a coach,” said Marcus, “I guess he just wanted us to remain close.”
Like a lot of Elbert County’s youth, Tyshon grew up playing sports at the recreation department. Elbert County Parks and Recreation Department Director Greg Johnson said even at a young age he knew Tyshon was going to be a good athlete. Dye interned with the local recreation department this past winter and spring.
“He liked working with the kids,” Johnson said. “He just wanted to give back to a community that gave to him when he was growing up, and that was special to us. He just had that jolly attitude. The outpouring I’ve seen. He can’t know the lives he’s touched away from sports. I’m not talking just football. His teammates from all over loved him as a teammate, because he was that kind of person.”