Redondo Beach Sea Hawks remember freshman Wyatt Lee
“I prefer not to think of Wyatt dying early. I think of him living 14 strong years.” -- drum teacher Robin Bailey
“I prefer not to think of Wyatt dying early. I think of him living 14 strong years.” — drum teacher Robin Bailey
by Kevin Cody
AYSO Region 34 commissioner Bob Hayes watched Wyatt Lee play soccer for eight years.
“He was a tough player. He played like he was six inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than he really was.
“He was a smart player. I learned that during a U14 I was refeing. Wyatt was a fast defender, but he was getting pushed around by a bigger attacker. His teammates and even his coaches were yelling at us for not calling fouls. Finally, Wyatt chased the attacker down and put a shoulder into him. I call a foul. His team erupts. ‘Why’d Wyatt get called?’
Wyatt came up to me with a smile on his face. He says, ‘Nice call, ref.’”
“He owned the moment and he owned the rest of the game.’’
Hayes told the story Monday evening before several hundred of Wyatt’s schoolmates gathered on the grassy hillside in front of the Redondo Union High auditorium. The student wore red Sea Hawk jerseys and held lighted candles. They were there to remember Wyatt, a freshman, and to support his parents Shannon and Soohan and his older brother, a Redondo High junior.
Wyatt died last Wednesday. He was 14.
School board member Brad Serkin said he drove by the Lee’s home on Wednesday, hoping what he had heard wasn’t true. Serkin coached Wyatt in the Redondo Sunset League at Alta Vista Park.
“There wasn’t a sport he didn’t excel in. Yes, he was small. But you wouldn’t know it by the way he played,” Serkin said.
Brady Thurman coached Wyatt at Parras Middle School.
“He was a Ferrari. He radiated energy. I’d always put him on the other team’s best ball handler. Kickball, dodgeball, PE. It didn’t matter. He was tenacious. He was the kid whose team everyone wanted to be on. He was kind. He’d pass off to the kid who was not so good, to get him in the game. But there was one thing I never understood about Wyatt,” Thurman said. “He never cursed.”
John Burke is an English teacher and golf coach at Redondo. He met Wyatt two summers ago when Wyatt was still at Parras Middle School and his parents invited him to dinner at their golf club.
“Since the pandemic we haven’t been able to practice. So, we’ve been meeting online. Wyatt was always the first to log on. He always used perfect grammar. And he preferred colored golf balls,” Burke said.
Robin Bailey, owner of Robin’s Drumworks, met the Lee family during an Alta Vista Cub Scout meeting five years ago.
Wyatt had been taking drum lessons ever since, until the pandemic. But even after lessons stopped, Wyatt kept jamming with Bailey’s son Julian, a bass player.
“They sent me a recording of them improvising just a few days ago and it sounded like what you’d hear coming from a jazz cafe,’ Bailey said.
“I prefer not to think of Wyatt dying early. I think of him living 14 strong years,” Bailey said.
David Strathearn, a colleague of Wyatt’s mother at Sony Pictures, described Shannon as someone who “lit up the room when she came in and left a smile on your face when she left.”
“Sometimes things happen that don’t make sense. This is one of those things,” he said.
Then Shannon Lee spoke.
She thanked the coaches and students for letting her family know her son had touched so many lives.
“That’s a gift for us,” she said.
“But he couldn’t see it,” she said.
“If you take nothing else away from this, parents, hug your kiddos. Kids, hug your parents back, even if it embarasses you.
“Wyatt always had a song in his head. When I woke up on the second day after Wyatt’s death, the song in my head was, ‘What the world needs now is love.’’
Following the memorial principal Jens Brant noted that counseling for Wyatt’s friends and teachers is available at the school and through South Bay Families Connected and the Beach Cities Health District.
Wyatt’s family asked that donations go to ArtBoxAcademy.com and LAWorks.com. A GoFundMe account has also been established in Wyatt’s name. ER
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