Oklahoma State football: Family brought Shamiel Gary back home to Oklahoma

OSU FOOTBALL -- In the fall of 2010, Shamiel Gary was faced with a difficult decision: stay at Wyoming where he'd become a freshman All-American or return home to Oklahoma to be close to his ailing grandmother.
by Gina Mizell Modified: October 31, 2013 at 9:30 am •  Published: October 30, 2013

STILLWATER — Shamiel Gary continued to wrestle with the decision.

To transfer or not to transfer?

It was the fall of 2010, and Gary was at Wyoming, where he had become a Freshman All-American and a productive member of the secondary.

His family wanted him to stay. If he left, could he find another school? Would he play football again?

But family is exactly why Gary was considering transferring in the first place. The Tulsa Washington product wanted to be close to his grandmother, Laura Evans, who was battling Alzheimer's disease.

Now Gary is putting together a strong senior season at Oklahoma State as one of the more underrated pieces of the Cowboys' upstart defense.

But more importantly, Gary got the final months with Grandma he was looking for.

“I thank God that he had a mind of his own,” said Gary's mother, Gwen Evans, “because if he would have listened to family, he wouldn't be where he is right now.

“To have him home with us, to be able to spend time with my mother before she passed away, it all worked together. We're very proud of him.”

***

Laura's home was the typical family gathering spot. Reunions were held there. Same with play dates with Gary and his cousins.

Grandma always cooked the best breakfast, Gary said, particularly her eggs, bacon and waffles.

Gwen describes her mother as someone who loved her family dearly and passed her strong faith onto her children and grandchildren. And Gary always seemed to put her in a good mood.

“When you'd talk about Shamiel, a smile would go on her face,” Gwen said. “That's the best I can describe their relationship.”

Laura would excitedly watch Gary's games at Wyoming on television, even if she sometimes couldn't quite make out which player he was on the screen. When Gary brought his girlfriend at the school back to Tulsa for a visit, Grandma kept telling him how pretty she was.

“She's sweet and genuine,” Gary said of his grandma.

Laura's health started to deteriorate in 2010. Gwen didn't tell her son about it right away, concerned it would affect him in the classroom and on the football field.

But as his sophomore season began to wind down, the time came for the difficult conversation.

“I explained to him the reason I did not tell him sooner,” Gwen said. “But (said) she's getting worse and we don't know how long she's going to be around.”

Gary was excelling at Wyoming, compiling 192 tackles, four interceptions and 11 pass breakups over his first two seasons. Good enough to be featured on a highway billboard, a sight that left Gwen bursting with pride as she made the trek out to one of his games.

Gary understood the fear of the unknown of transferring. But he ultimately decided it was time to return to Oklahoma.

“(Your parents) call you about something, you just pray about it, but you can't come home if something serious happens,” he said. “It makes it easier … if something does happen, I can come home and help.”

That doesn't mean getting to OSU was easy.

Gwen remembers Gary being visibly stressed when he arrived back in Tulsa. Her son, for the first time, could see how his grandmother's heath was failing. And he was attempting to start a new phase of his life, with no clear direction of where it would head.

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by Gina Mizell
OSU Sports Reporter
Gina Mizell joined The Oklahoman in August of 2011 as the Oklahoma State beat writer, where she covered the Cowboys' historic run to the Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl in her first season on the job. Before arriving in Stillwater, Gina was...
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