FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Throughout the sports world, the number on an athlete’s jersey oftentimes represents a deeper story.
Some choose to wear a number because it’s the same one their sports idol or a family member wore. Others choose a number because its considered lucky to them.
For Bishop Luers sophomore cornerback, Brayden McInturf, number 34 represents the honor of his late childhood friend, Clayten Stuart, who unexpectedly passed away earlier in November.
McInturf asked his coach if he could change his jersey number from 22 to 34 the same morning as Stuart’s passing.
“I just thought it was the right decision to kind of carry on what he started over there at Bishop Dwenger,” said McInturf. “I just feel he would have liked it for me to switch it for him.”
Stuart was a freshman on Bishop Dwenger’s football team. He and McInturf went to the same preschool and stayed close friends despite going to different high schools.
“I was over at his house probably every other weekend or vice versa, he was at my house,” said McInturf. “We all hung out every single day and the friendship between his family and my family got extremely close.”
On Friday, Luers rallied from a 28-7 halftime deficit to beat Pioneer in the 2A semi-state game. During the Knight’s second-half comeback, McInturf recorded a pick six, which he said was for Stuart.
“I was a little nervous. I was like ‘Lord, Clayten please look over me,” McInturf said. “Once I saw that ball thrown I broke down on it, I caught the ball and when I was in my hands I was like, ‘man, I have to score this is for him.’ So, right when I got to the end point up to the sky after I score and it was a little emotional.”
Luers is set to play Western Boone in the state championship on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium. McInturf said this is his opportunity to keep a promise he and Stuart made this summer.
“Clayten and I, we made a promise over the summer saying that no matter what our goal for each other is the win a ring or state championship or just being able to have the experience down there,” said McInturf. “I’m pretty excited to say that we’re going to complete that.”
Kickoff for the state championship game is at 11 a.m.