In life and now death former UK great Jared Lorenzen continues to inspire others

Jared Lorenzen died July 3, 2019 at the age of 38 (Photo: Regina Rickert)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - It's been nearly a month since the Big Blue Nation lost a beloved player in former University of Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen.

Lorenzen died on July 3 after being hospitalized with health complications.

His death also re-opened a conversation about weight and obesity, something Lorenzen was very open about discussing when it came to his own weight.

While the Big Blue Nation will remember Lorenzen for his time on the field and the memories he left behind, others are thanking him for helping them not only open up about, but also address their own health issues.

On the field, number 22 dazzled fans with arm and his quickness that many said shouldn't be possible because of his size, but Lorenzen wasn't just any player.

Despite all of his success on the field, something off the field seemed to haunt him and it was something Lorenzen was often brutally honest about.

"There was definitely a time when dude if I didn't wake up nobody would ever think anything of it, well look at what he did to himself," said Lorenzen back in 2018.

In the last year of his life, Lorenzen made it no secret that at five hundred plus pounds he needed to make a change.

The Jared Lorenzen Project chronicled his efforts to lose weight and encouraged others to do the same.

But long before his journey to lose weight, it was Lorenzen just talking about his size that inspired one man.

"I've always been a big guy myself and immediately felt some compassion for him in trying to do what he loves to do, despite his weight," said Tommy Tomlinson.

Tommy Tomlinson is a longtime sports writer in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.

In 2014 he first met Lorenzen when he was playing minor league football.

Tomlinson ended up writing a piece for ESPN magazine, the article was about Lorenzen and his lifelong struggle with his weight.

"How it affected everything in his life even though he had exceeded so much in his football career as an athlete it damaged him in a lot of ways," said Tomlinson.

Over the years Tomlinson kept up with Lorenzen, the entire time dealing with his own demons and staring obesity in the face at 460 pounds.

"Jared was the inspiration for me, as I wrote I had always been afraid to write my own story because I was afraid of how much I would have to reveal about myself," said Tomlinson.

Lorenzen, on the other hand he says was an open book and Tomlinson says he realized the value of the story they both shared.

"As I wrote Jared's story I started to see the value in telling these kinds of stories to tell other people they are not alone," said Tomlinson.

Tomlinson has changed his life, he's eating better, getting more exercise and he is losing weight.

He found himself once again last month writing about Lorenzen, this time though in his passing.

Tomlinson says despite all those highlights, his friend Jared Lorenzen will always be remembered to him for the humor and grace he had when it came to weight.

"The big part I hope about telling Jared's story and my story is to sort of understand what our lives are like and that it's not just a failure of willpower, or it's not just about finding the right diet it's a lifelong battle," said Tomlinson.

Tomlinson recently released his own memoir, The Elephant in the Room, One Fat Man's Quest to Get Smaller in a Growing America.

Tomlinson says he was inspired in part to write his own story after first writing about Lorenzen and the friendship they shared.

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