BERKELEY – Family, friends, teammates, members of the Cal athletic and the greater campus community gathered at Haas Pavilion on Monday night to share memories of former Cal football player Ted Agu, who died on Feb. 7 at the age of 21.
The memorial service was attended by several members of Agu’s family, athletic director Sandy Barbour, Cal football coach Sonny Dykes, members of the football team and many others. Agu was remembered as a young man with a huge heart, who sought to help others while working tirelessly at succeeding at everything he attempted to do.
“I got to know Ted because of football, but Ted was much more than a football player,” Dykes said. “Sometimes, football defines us. But it was a very, very small part of Ted’s life. Ted was about taking care of people that couldn’t take care of themselves. He was all about helping people, working hard, overcoming obstacles – and I think that’s the lesson that our football players are so fortunate to learn from him.”
The service began with a rendition of “Hail To California” by the Cal Band, followed by opening remarks by Barbour. Interim Dean of Students David Surratt presented remarks on behalf of Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and Doris Agu, Ted’s sister, also spoke.
While talking about the impact Agu had on him and others, Dykes recounted a story that took place after Cal’s football team lost to Washington last season. In his office watching film the next day, Dykes noticed Agu pacing outside his office.
“I said, ‘Hey Ted, what’s going on?,” Dykes said. “He said, ‘Do you got a second?’ I said, ‘Sure.’ He walked in and closed the door and said, ‘Coach, I just want you to know that I got your back and we’re behind you.’ For a young man to tell a grown man that and the impact it had on me, that tells all of you everything you need to know about Ted.”
The service also featured remarks from Nick McNeil of the Athletic Study Center and other fellow students and teammates.
Maggie Simpson of the track & field team, who was a close friend of Agu’s, gave a powerful recollection of Agu and the effect he had one her life.
“The Wednesday before he died I got a text from him, saying that he had my Christmas present and we have to hang out,” Simpson said. “He asked if I was free today and I said that I was working but I am free on Saturday. So we planned to meet up on Saturday. Saturday came without Ted, and I realized from that moment on I would never ever put anything in front of the people I loved. There wouldn’t be a moment that I would spend the rest of my life without letting everyone I know that I love them. That’s what Ted gave me. That’s what Ted continues to give all of us, this promise of love and this promise of trust that lives forever.”
Following a reading by team chaplain Kevin Knox, teammates Austin Clark and Brennan Scarlett provided memories of their time with Agu. Clark’s locker was next to Agu’s in Cal’s locker room.
“Ted taught us all selflessness,” Clark said. “It didn’t matter what you needed help with or what you were doing. If you called Ted, he stopped what he was doing and helped you out. The best way for everyone on this campus to honor Ted is by putting in the work, by taking no days off, by doing whatever it takes to be the best at whatever they’re doing, whether it be athletically or academically.”
Scarlett said he spent many late nights with Agu at the athletic study center, and Agu gave him a lesson about hard work.
“I’d be ready to leave and he’d just want to finish one last problem,” Scarlett said. “I got the car and I’d tell him that I’m leaving. He either knew that I wasn’t going to leave him, or he just didn’t care. I would sit back down and finish my problem. That work I was going to put off until tomorrow, I’d finish that night.
“I found myself making excuses why I can’t be the best in school or the best I can be in athletics because there is so much to balance. Ted helped me get rid of all those excuses. I don’t have any more excuses for that type of stuff anymore. Ted truly helped me as a person. He made everybody’s lives that much better.”
After closing remarks by Barbour, the service closed with a video tribute to Agu’s life.
The athletic department also announced it has set up the Ted Agu Memorial Scholarship Fund, which will serve as an endowment to provide scholarship support to student athletes. Supporters can make a gift to Cal Athletics and indicate it be dedicated to the Ted Agu Memorial Scholarship Fund. Contributions can also be made online at CalBears.com/tedaguscholarship.