Memphis' Star Running Back Reveals His Decision Not to Play for the Tigers After Losing Multiple Family Members to COVID-19

Memphis’ Star Running Back Reveals His Decision Not to Play for the Tigers After Losing Multiple Family Members to COVID-19

Last year, the University of Memphis running back Kenneth Gainwell totaled 2,069 all-purpose yards. As a result, he put up the most yards of any freshman in the FBS.

However, despite his breakout year, Gainwell has made the decision not to play this year as the NCAA attempts to still hold the 2020 football season this fall, despite COVID-19 concerns. On August 31, the running back took to Twitter to share his reasoning as to why he will not be participating in the 2020 season.

“To the Tiger Family,” Gainwell began his statement, “I can’t thank you all enough for embracing me as one of your own. These past two years have been full of triumph, and I’ve been humbled to represent both the University of Memphis and the City of Memphis.”

“I appreciate the love that’s been poured out, especially the bond I’ve been able to form with each and every one of my teammates. Being a Tiger has meant so much to me. The memories of the Murphy Athletic Complex to the Liberty Bowl will last a lifetime.”

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After thanking the coaches and staff for helping him become a better player and a better man, Gainwell explained that he ultimately made his decision to not play this season after he lost three family members to COVID-19.

“I have arrived at the hardest decision of my life, which is to opt-out of the 2020 College football season. I love this game with all of my heart, and never thought I’d have to make this decision,” Gainwell added. “But I just lost my 3rd family member to COVID-19, and after taking time to reflect I know it’s time for me to look after my family.”

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He then concluded his statement by revealing it was his Uncle Gilbert, Uncle Lester, and Aunt Janie, who had passed away. In an interview with The Commercial Appeal, Gainwell’s father said his son’s decision not to play was to ensure the well being of his family, as well as his teammates.

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