Bethany's J.P. Grasmick never stopped fighting

Although the former high school quarterback passed away in May, he battled cancer until the end.
by Scott Wright Published: June 21, 2014
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Bone cancer took Jefferson Pearce Grasmick’s life on May 12.

But Grasmick didn’t lose to cancer.

“He never let it break him,” younger brother Christian Grasmick said.

In his 25 years, J.P. Grasmick was a lot of things. An All-State quarterback at Bethany High School. An Army sergeant. A natural leader. “Quitter” never made the list.

“He was one of those kids who kind of liked to talk the talk, but always ended up walking the walk,” Bethany football coach Reagan Roof said. “He showed it by his work ethic and how hard he played, and how passionate he was about whatever he was doing.”

Even at the grueling and painful end of a cancer fight that lasted nearly three years, J.P. never let cancer have power over him.

J.P. underwent the amputation of his right arm, approximately 20 surgeries, and more chemotherapy and radiation treatments than his family could count.

On the day before he died, Grasmick pulled himself out of bed and walked to the couch in the living room of his family’s home. He was texting his buddies and watching an Oklahoma City Thunder playoff game.

“He became a lefty,” said his mother, Mindy Grasmick. “But he learned to tie his shoes again, learned to do everything he possibly could.”

In between chemotherapy treatments, when he could muster enough strength, J.P. would go to the gym to lift weights.

“He’d go work out with me, and he’d do everything I was doing,” Christian said.

J.P.’s competitive nature was evident to his family very early on, but it became more widely visible during his time as Bethany’s starting quarterback from 2004-07. He earned the starting job midway through his freshman year and never let go of it, being selected to the All-State team as a senior.

“His enthusiasm and passion was contagious,” Roof said. “He was the type of kid you wanted on your team. You’d follow him anywhere.”

After high school, J.P. spent a semester at Southwestern Oklahoma State in Weatherford. He and Christian had talked about going into the military together when Christian finished high school in 2010.

“But he couldn’t wait for me,” Christian said. “After one semester, he decided he was ready to go.”

J.P. attended basic training at Fort Benning, Ga., the same place Christian later passed through.

J.P. was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., as part of a long-range surveillance unit. But he wanted to go to Afghanistan. His primary goal was to serve on a special forces unit as an Army Ranger. He came up short in his first attempt, and was preparing himself to take another shot.

But before he got that opportunity, J.P. came home on leave in June 2011. He was lifting weights with a friend when his right arm broke.

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by Scott Wright
Reporter
A lifelong resident of the Oklahoma City metro area, Scott Wright has been on The Oklahoman staff since 2005, covering a little bit of everything on the state's sports scene. He has been a beat writer for football and basketball at Oklahoma and...
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