Austin Box is far from forgotten in his family's home, as well as in his hometown of Enid.
The former Oklahoma linebacker died in May after ingesting a lethal amount of prescription drugs. Box's death has no doubt received a great deal of attention; his family would like to see that his life does, as well.
In the past month, the Boxes set up the Austin Box “12” Foundation. Its first function will be to award an annual college scholarship to an Enid High School senior.
Naturally, the grief of losing an only son and only brother has been staggering for the Boxes. But a sense of purpose is breaking through the pain, emerging through the foundation.
“There are times when you just don't want to do anything, but there are other times — most of the time, really — that you want to do things,” said Craig, Austin's father. “I want his memory to stay alive, because I think he deserves that.
“It is, for the most part, very cathartic to talk about him and do things like this. It's difficult at times, but overall it's very positive.”
Applications for the scholarship are due to the foundation by March 29. The recipient will receive $1,500 per semester for a total of $3,000. It will go to an Enid student-athlete with at least a 3.0 grade-point average.
There is one curious portion of the scholarship form: “Favorite Movie Quote & Movie.”
See, that would have been right up Box's alley, considering he started rattling off movie quotes when he was a youngster. It is an illustration of an outgoing personality that often had his parents and siblings cracking up.
Adding that blank to the application was his old sister Whitney's idea. She often exchanged texts with Austin, speaking only in movie quotes.
She still does that with some of his former OU teammates.
“We didn't just want the same old form answers,” said Whitney, a 27-year-old OU graduate who works in Enid's city planning department. “We wanted to really get to know a person.”
Finalists for the scholarship will be interviewed by Whitney, as well as two of Austin's best friends, Matthew Athey and John Dillingham.
“They're going to have to bring their humor,” Whitney said, laughing.
The family is hopeful the scholarship is only the beginning for the foundation. Whitney mentioned an eight-man football tournament and a 5K or marathon as possibilities for the coming months and years.
“This scholarship is one of the many things we want to do,” Whitney said. “This is just the first step.”
Austin is being remembered in other ways, as well. The community soon plans to unveil a granite bench in his honor at the entrance to Selby Stadium, where the Plainsmen football team plays. A memorial to his No. 7 will be erected there, as well as at David Allen Ballpark, where Austin starred on several American Legion baseball teams.
The family also wants to use the foundation as a vehicle for honest discussions with kids about the dangers of drug abuse. It's a difficult but necessary purpose due to their unique position, the Boxes said.
They plan to speak in classrooms and at various events in the community.
“It's important to us,” Whitney said. “None of us believe Austin did anything knowingly to hurt himself. When you're 18-22, around that age, you feel invincible. You don't even realize the consequence of things. Even the slightest mistake can end really tragically.
“No one wants that to happen again. If our speaking to people can save a life, that would be amazing.”