Tyrone Gayle could fly. Tyrone Gayle could fly, but that was never enough for him — he wanted us all to fly with him.
You could feel it every time he entered a room — that soaring magnetism, pulling you up.
There was nobody like Tyrone. Nobody made you feel quite like Tyrone did. Nobody smiled bigger. Nobody worked harder or ran faster or cared deeper. And you better believe, nobody made friends more easily or maintained them more diligently than Tyrone.
It’s rare, the gift of flight. But it’s rarer still to be unsatisfied by it.
Most people who can fly are content. That’s enough for them. And why wouldn’t it be — they’re flying.
But not Tyrone.
Tyrone Gayle could fly, but he never stopped to celebrate his own ascent — he was too busy working to get us up there with him.
Ty would elevate you. And, man, he’d elevate you whether you wanted to be elevated or not. He demanded excellence from himself and he damn well expected it from you too.
Sometimes you just wanted to sleep in. Sometimes you just wanted to half-ass something, or complain. Because you really were tired. Things really were hard. But there was Tyrone, with his uncanny perspective, his stubborn optimism and unfaltering example.
He didn’t have to preach. He never had to lecture you. He’d just hit you with one good-natured but distinctly judgmental joke — one side-eye that said c’mon man, you can be better.
And that’s all it took — you knew you could be better. You knew you had to.
Ty just invested in you, more wholly than you could process. He’d figure out what you wanted — before you figured it out sometimes — and then figure out how to help get you there. He knew you could achieve it, even if you didn’t.
See, impossible was never something he believed in. Tyrone Gayle could fly, and he was positive that you could too.
Of course, it wasn’t just guilt trips. It was encouragement in every form. And when Ty was proud of you, he let you know. And boy, you knew you’d earned it. When Ty was proud of you, I swear, you felt like you could fly.
He was everyone’s mentor and everyone’s advocate. Where you saw adversity, he saw opportunity. In young people of color, he saw future people in power. If you were a Senator, he saw the next President.
And if you were single, by God, he was gonna find you a love as good as his.
Watching Tyrone grow sick was gutting. You’re not supposed to watch superheroes grow sick, and that’s what Ty was to so many of us — a superhero.
But even as he grew sick, he never grew weak. See, the weak drag people down. Ty never stopped lifting people up. Even in his final days, he was pushing us; forcing us to be better; refusing to let us pity him, or pity ourselves.
Life doesn’t respect right and wrong sometimes.
Life, sometimes, forgets about justice. Life forgets about who deserves what. And it’s bullshit. I’ll never get over it. We had to bury our superhero––my brother. I’ll never get over that.
But make no mistake: Tyrone Gayle could fly. And nothing can ever take that from him. Nothing can ever take that from any of us.