Former Redondo High football star Erik Wilson lived full life before early passing
Paddleout for the ‘Big E’
A paddleout at Torrance Beach on Sunday for former Redondo Union High quarterback Erik Wilson (Class of 2008) drew over 300 people from his wide range of friends. They included the University of Washington football players, where Wilson also played quarterback, golfers, paddlers, surfers and volleyball players. Wilson died on April 20, three months short of his 30th birthday.
In a beach eulogy before the paddleout, family friend Danny Vaughn recalled knowing Wilson since “he would climb out of his crib, and flip on the ground before he could even walk.”
Wilson’s loss was leavened, Vaughn related by all Wilson accomplished and all the people he loved.
“‘Big E’ was big, strong, and fast, but he always thought of himself as being bigger, stronger, and faster than he really was, which led to many hospital visits for stitches and broken bones.”
“Everything was a race for Erik…. Our Fourth of July block party always started with a parade where people would ride decorated bikes and scooters from one end of the street to the other. Of course, Erik always looked at it as a big race that he had to win. He would go full speed, out of control, and face plant in the street. It got be a tradition that Erik’s face was covered in bandaids every Fourth of July.
“He loved golf. He and his brother-in-law Colton hid clubs in the bushes around the Palos Verdes Country Club, and would sneak on the course when the course was closed due to the coronavirus. One day Erik was solo and called Colton to tell him that he was riding his bike down the middle of the fairways.
“Erik loved to cook, but he had an unusual palate. He loved butter, brownie batter, cookie dough, and runny pancakes. He loved to ride his skateboard to Phannys every Saturday morning to get the family bacon breakfast burritos.
“Erik loved his trampoline, until his parents caught him jumping on to it from the roof. There was no more trampoline after that.
“He was always up for an adventure. He found a cliff in Palos Verdes, a really high cliff from where he could jump into the ocean.
“He always stood up for the underdog and was kind to others. He was the first to run over and help anyone who needed work done around the house. He loved to be handy and fix things for the neighbors over on Helberta. Just recently, he had been helping his cousins build a deck in their backyard. The neighbors noticed him, and before you knew it, he was helping them move furniture.
“He helped Mo-Mo, his mother set up her classroom at the beginning of the school year.
“It would be easier for me to say what sports Erik did not play than what he did play. Volleyball, skiing, snowboarding, surfing, soccer, baseball and of course football. He also loved to compete in junior lifeguards.
“Erik had a passion for paddle boarding, just like his dad. He was good, really good. At the age of 14, Erik was the United States Paddle Board Champion in the 18 and under division. That same year he went on to take second place internationally and first in the father/son competition in Hawaii.
“He loved ping pong. He’d play left handed, so when he won, he could further humiliate you, saying he was playing left handed. But also, if he lost, playing left handed was his excuse for losing.
“Erik was a great football player, a three-year varsity quarterback who led The Sea Hawks to the Bay League Title in 2007. Coaches would say that he had amazing footwork, arm, and ability to read defenses very quickly.
“He went on to play Division 1 football at the University of Washington. U. of Washiongton kicks off its season with an event called “Raise the Roof.” It draws thousands of people. The coaches and alumni pick a player to talk. They picked Erik three years in a row. He had everyone laughing hysterically.
“In high school, he could be seen cruising around in his Vanagon, which he called the ‘Mystery Machine.’ You could hear it coming from blocks away. He loved to fill his car with fellow football players to go to football passing league tournaments.
“He always had dogs around him. He took his dogs to the park and taught them to go down the slide. Even as an adult, he would speak to his dogs in a high voice. Right before Erik passed, his dog Raylan, passed away. Raylan and Duke (the family dog) will join Erik today at the paddle out.
“Erik was not only athletic, but smart. He was offered several academic scholarships. He graduated from U. of Washiongton with a degree in Business Communications.
“He really enjoyed engineering, building, and the creative part of construction and was on the path to a position within the construction management field.
“Erik had charisma. He was a big hugger, and greeted everyone with a warm embrace. I remember him coming over to my house unannounced. I got the big hug and after a short back and forth, I could tell he was there for a reason and I told him to cut to the chase. He gives me his shit eating grin and says “Uncle Danny, can you please get me one of Paige’s (my daughter’s) friend’s phone number.”
“His sister Danielle was always number one in his life. If she got in trouble, like some teens do, he would reason with his mom and dad to get her out of whatever she did.
“I will never forget Danielle telling me that she had lost her best friend that morning.
“Erik was lucky to have Brad and Monique as parents. They spent summers house boating, camping, fishing, and wakeboarding. (Erik cleared the wake his first time out).
“Erik loved to build puzzles. During the quarantine he started his last puzzle, Growing up, Erik and his dad liked to hide a piece, so when everything else was finished, they could pop in the last piece. After Erik passed, the family wanted to finish the puzzle he had started. Of course, that last piece was missing. When we see him again, the piece of our heart that is missing will be found and the puzzle will be complete.
In lieu of flowers, the Wilson family asks that donations be sent to Concussion Legacy Foundation at concussionfoundation.org. CLF co-founded, with the Veteran’s Administration and Boston University, the VA-BU-CLF brain bank, the world’s leading CTE research program. ER
Photo Gallery 1 by Nick Meistrell. Gallery 2 by Kevin Cody
by Kevin Cody
Kevin is the publisher of Easy Reader and Beach. Share your news tips. 310 372-4611 ext. 110 or kevin[at]easyreadernews[dot]com