Jeff Pearlman

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Tyler Ugolyn has a blank Facebook page

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Earlier this evening my pal Michael Lewis texted, asking whether I was going to write something about Tyler Ugolyn, the 23-year old Sept. 11 victim I profiled the following week for Sports Illustrated.

So I Googled a bit, and stumbled upon this—a Tyler Ugolyn Facebook page with nothing on it.

And it got me thinking …

Tyler Ugolyn would be 41 right now. He would likely have a wife, kids. His Facebook page would be filled with wedding photos, vacation photos, hospital photos from the arrivals of his children. He would have all his friends listed—from Ridgefield High, from Columbia University, from Fred Alger Associates, from the jobs that followed.

Tyler Ugolyn’s Facebook page would be a tremendous scroll. That trip to Hawaii for his pal’s bachelor weekend. That drive through the Rocky Mountains. Birthday wishes to his mom and dad. There’d be throwback memories to old cars, old ceremonies. He would write about sports and politics and investments and his new puppy—the one who keeps chewing on his shoes. He’d tell the story of meeting his wife at a party or bar and through a friend of a friend. He’d recall that first look—her blue eyes gazing up from the floor. He would rave about her new career; about the books she reads; about the way she finds bargains; about what her love does for him.

He’d write snarky captions about his inlaws visiting. He’d talk trash to old basketball rivals. He’d mock Columbia’s lousy sports program. His FAVORITES listing would be filled with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant; with trucks and rock music.

He would bemoan getting older in that serious-but-not-too-serious way. The jumper that once always found net would be a bit rusty. He’d mourn not playing enough hoops. But his back is sore. His feet are tired. Plus, his daughter has ballet three days a week. Someone has to drive her.

His Facebook page would be a celebration of the collection of people and experiences that is life. O

Instead, on Sept. 11, 2019, Tyler Ugolyn has a blank Facebook page.

Eighteen years after his death, that feels horribly appropriate.

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RIP

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life